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 a place to put smaller items that may be less-than-comfortable to put into the cabin such as fuel strainers, rags to check oil and various cleaners.
The Decision
So, which P46T should you purchase? There are two distinct buyers for each. First, if you are a from-the-factory kind of pilot, preferring an airplane not modi- fied by a large STC, then the Meridian is for you. But, if you are driven by ef- ficiency and don’t mind an STC-airplane, then the JetPROP is a consideration. Jet- PROP owners tend to be pilots who revel in having the most efficient airplane. A -35 JetPROP will cruise with a fuel burn of about 32 gph, while a Meridian is go- ing to burn 39 gph for the same speed.
Answer this question: Would you rather own a showroom-condition, num- bers-correct, low-mileage, stunning 1963 Corvette Stingray Split-Window Coupe; or a brand-new, decked-out, gorgeous 2020 Corvette? Both will cost you about the same to buy in like-new condition, but they will drive completely differ- ent. The 1963 Corvette will have a small
block V8, standard-shift transmission, timeless good looks and it’ll probably ap- preciate as the years progress. Whereas, the 2020 Corvette will have the best-of- the-best electronics, incredible creature comforts, automatic transmission and the biggest engine Chevy could find.
If you are leaning toward the 1963 Corvette, then chances are you would want a JetPROP. You’ll say that changing fuel tanks, turning the ice door on and off and pushing buttons to adjust the heat is no problem for the acquisition and fuel to be gained. Driving a stan- dard transmission is not harder than an automatic transmission once you know what you are doing. Plus, the standard gives the driver driving options, right?
Or, if you like the sounds of the 2020 Corvette then you are probably a Merid- ian buyer. To know you have improved safety gadgets, advanced avionics and a newer airplane that is likely to have smaller maintenance costs trumps any efficiency issues that may arise in your mind.
The cool part to me is that I like both a 1963 and a 2020 Corvette. And I like
both the JetPROP and the Meridian. Piper has sold nearly 600 Meridian/M500 airframes, so they’ve clearly got a good product. And the JetPROP continues to sell strongly with JetPROP owners as some of the most fanatical about their steeds, often owning their airplane for decades, not years.
Whichever you choose, you cannot go wrong. They are both fabulous platforms and great cross-country performers. I’m excited every time I get the chance to fly one, and I fly one or both nearly every day. The P46T, whether a Jet- PROP or a Meridian, is simply a great airplane.
  Joe Casey is an FAA-DPE and an ATP, CFI, CFII (A/H), MEI, CFIG, CFIH, as well as a U.S. Army UH-60 standardization instructor/examiner. An MMOPA Board member, he has been a PA46 instructor for 16-plus years and has accumulated 12,000- plus hours of flight time, 5,500 of which has been in the PA46. Contact Joe at: www.flycasey.com, by email at joe@flycasey.com, or by phone at 903.721.9549.
   Hillaero Modification Center
8 • TWIN & TURBINE / December 2019
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