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 Top Turboprop Series
Pre-Owned Meridian and JetPROP by Joe Casey
  Which is better, the JetPROP or the Piper Meridian? As an active instructor in the PA46 world, this proves to be one of the most debatable topics and one of the questions I hear most often.
I’ll first relate that they are singularly outstanding airplanes, and I really ap- preciate attributes in both. But there are also key differences, and a prudent buyer should be aware of those differ- ences before making a purchase.
The Similarities
Let’s review the similarities first. Both airplanes offer the same size cab- in, cruise at about 260 KTAS, achieve a range of around 750 nm, and climb to FL270 from a sea-level airport in about 20 minutes. Both have a “bulletproof” engine and see a similar acquisition cost for an equivalently equipped model. They are special airplanes well-matched for the owner who wants turbine reli- ability and power, pressurization and a
great platform for true IFR flying. The differences between the two airplanes center around three things: engine, bag- gage space and operational costs.
The Differences
The JetPROP was introduced in the late 1990s and was a huge hit from the beginning. It is a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) that is applied to a piston PA46 (usually a Mirage). The piston engine is removed, along with nearly everything firewall-forward, and a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 is installed (usually a PT6-35). The result is a phenomenal increase in climb rate and speed. Where the Mirage can have trouble climbing at 600 fpm (depending upon the density altitude and weight), the JetPROP can climb around 1,800 fpm, sometimes more. The average Mi- rage cruise speed is usually about 200 KTAS, but the JetPROP cruise can reach 260 KTAS easily. The marketplace took notice of the stellar performance of the
JetPROP, and there are now more than 330 JetPROP conversions. It is easily one of the most trusted and popular conver- sions in the market.
When the JetPROP was introduced, Piper Aircraft also took notice. They were already eying the potential of a turbine PA46, but when the JetPROP released, Piper really amped up the research and development to create the Meridian. The Meridian has since evolved into a fabulous platform for the owner-pilot who wants a from-the- factory airplane.
Comparing the Systems
Since the JetPROP is a conversion, some systems heavily depend upon the systems that were original in the pis- ton PA46 – systems that can sometimes be complex and require a pilot who is knowledgeable of their intricacies. For instance, the JetPROP has a complex fuel system that requires the pilot to change the fuel lever to level the fuel from right
6 • TWIN & TURBINE / December 2019

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