New for 2018: Garmin G1000 NXi
For accomplished IFR pilots flying high-performance piston aircraft, there comes a time when they want more: more speed, range, payload, altitude and cabin space. But what they do not want is significantly higher operating costs or more complexity for single-pilot operations. The Piper M500 – with its lowest-in-class operating costs, simplicity of operation and safety features – fits that niche like no other aircraft can.
Now equipped with Garmin G1000 NXi, the M500 steps to the front of the line with the latest avionics innovations and connectivity capabilities.
Twenty years ago, Piper announced the Meridian as a natural extension of its highly successful Malibu and Mirage piston-powered aircraft. Certified in 2001, it quickly took hold in the marketplace as an easy step-up to turbine power . In fact, it quickly established a reputation for being an economical-to-operate, fun-to-fly cabin-class turboprop powered by the reliable Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-42A engine delivering flat-rated 500 shaft horsepower.
Over the years, the aircraft has gone through several iterations of cockpit equipment, from the Meggitt Magic, then the Avidyne Entegra and later the Garmin G1000. In 2015, Piper rebranded the Meridian the M500 with a number of flight deck safety enhancements and a fresh updated look to the interior styling.
“What makes the M500 a popular choice for the pilot moving up from a high-performance piston single is not just the size of cabin, but the fact they can step into a turbine product with compelling operating costs. The fuel burn is lowest of any single-engine turboprop on the market,” said Jackie Carlon, senior director of marketing at Piper Aircraft. “Simplicity is another outstanding attribute. It’s less complex to fly than a piston single with pilot workload-saving features such as single-lever power operation, autostart function, de-ice that automatically cycles once activated, and of course, the G1000 NXi.”
The new generation of G1000 brings enhancements to general aviation’s most popular integrated avionics system. The NXi offers added processing power for brighter, smoother high-resolution displays. Not only will the system initialize faster at startup, but it offers better clarity, reduced power consumption and improved dimming performance. NXi comes with a unique HSI mapping feature that gives pilots an MFD-like perspective map right on your PFD. The detailed graphical landscape helps focus your instrument scan — while allowing you to view mapping, terrain, obstacles, traffic, weather overlays, navaids, airport diagrams and more. It’s a great aid for pilot situational awareness, especially when things get extra busy in the cockpit.
With NXi, Garmin expanded their ground-operation features with the addition of SurfaceWatch, which helps pilots avoid runway incursions or miscues such as taking off or landing on the wrong runway. It even tells you if you’re lined up on a runway that appears to be too short for safe takeoff or landing. Also, SurfaceWatch can optionally provide runway distance-remaining annunciations, beginning at 5,000 feet down through 500 feet remaining.
In addition, G1000 NXi has connectivity upgrades. The all-digital GMA 350c Bluetooth audio panel allows pilots to make calls or stream audio entertainment from a phone or tablet. It also can be paired with a Garmin Pilot app to transmit terrain, obstacle or traffic alerts. Flight Stream 510 is a wireless gateway that allows to upload and update flight plans from a mobile device running Garmin Pilot or ForeFlight.
Lastly, the G1000 NXi integrates with the Garmin GWX 68 digital color radar and supports the XM WX Satellite Weather. The GTX 33ES provides ADS-B in and out and an optional Connext satellite link receiver can also bring seamless on-demand worldwide weather information to your cockpit for international operations.
While the 2018 M500 and the M350 models will come equipped standard with G1000 NXi, Piper is working toward an aftermarket NXi solution for the G1000-equipped M-class aircraft. The company said it expects to have a solution available via STC by the end of 2018.
One of the M500’s primary safety enhancements is the electronic stability protection (ESP), which is incorporated into the aircraft’s Garmin GFC700 autopilot installation. ESP operates whenever the autopilot is not engaged, providing overspeed, underspeed and over-bank protection. The system provides gentle correction whenever the pilot ventures too close to the edges of the aircraft’s operating envelope.
Another upgrade found on the M500 is the coupled go-around. Once the aircraft reaches minimums, all the pilot has to do is add power and clean up the aircraft; the autopilot will fly the missed approach and enter the hold. The aircraft is also equipped with an automatic level mode, a great safety feature. Should the pilot become disoriented, a simple push of the blue button will enable the autopilot to return the aircraft to stable, level flight.
To simplify management of the pressurization, the system is integrated with the flight deck. Once the destination airport is entered, the system automatically pressurizes and depressurizes throughout the entire flight without any intervention by the pilot.
M500 Interior Upgrades
Piper’s experience with the Meridian, and now the M500, is that it appeals to step-up pilots with young, growing families, thanks to its large cabin and jet-like air-stair door that makes entering and exiting the aircraft easier.
“We also see pilots with aging parents who find it difficult to climb onto the wing and into the cabin of a small piston plane. The M500 offers a whole new level of comfort,” Carlon added.
All M-Class aircraft come with an initial training slot at Legacy Flight Training located at Piper’s Vero Beach, Florida headquarters. Simcom is an approved training provider for the M500. Warranty on a new M500 is three years for the airframe and avionics; the powerplant is covered for seven years and Hartzell prop comes with a five-year warranty.
For 2018 models, the M500 is base-priced at $2.040 million with the typically equipped aircraft coming in at $2.2 million.