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Tue, Apr 08, 2003

Piper's 6X -- An Interesting 'Minor' Point

There are a number of interesting featrures on this new bird, some of which aren't in the "gee whiz" category, but which are nonetheless contributory to the machine's overall mission -- providing a reasonable, reasonably-priced true six-seater for flying families.

One such feature, pointed out to us by Piper's aircraft assembly guru, Craig Clayton, was built around the paint job.

We noted that the modern-looking paint made the machine look swoopy and new; one of the performance and logistical advantages totally went past us, until... well, it's obvious: note that all the trim-color paint is on the fuselage. "What's the big deal?" you ask.

The big deal is, all the control and movable surfaces are white -- only white. Not only will that make field replacement easier and faster, there's a good manufacturing reason to do it: there's no additional rebalancing to do, after the customer's preference paint job goes on. Less work, less expense, less inspection, fewer trips to balancing equipment -- it all adds up. When you factor the big expense -- the paperwork -- the New Piper New Paintjob looks even better, doesn't it?

Some other cost savings are obvious, like the absence of a baggage compartment window. [Now your baggage can't see out! --ed.] Other savings are less-obvious, and are recognized when the equipment list of the 6X is compared to the equipment list of the Saratoga -- the omission of the electric standby vacuum pump, the rear-seat intercom,and the lowered level of soundproofing (when you consider how many pilots are regularly using ANR sets, that makes a bunch of sense). OK -- so the flaps are manually-operated, and compared to the Saratoga TC, you're down a couple knots in cruise -- you're also spending roughly $200,000 less -- and if you want to option-up the 6X, feel free!

The 6X is made on the Piper line -- there is one Piper line -- and the quality improvements they have been implementing are paying off.

Have a look at the baggage door, for instance: it's a rather complicated opening; but look for the seam when it's closed. Not bad.

Somebody really likes the whole idea of the 6X. The new machine was unveiled Wednesday morning; at lunchtime Friday, Piper told us they had taken firm orders for two 6X, and a 6XT...

FMI: www.newpiper.com


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