Owners complain that no matter how carefully they operate the airplane, cylinder woes are just around the corner. Maintenance is a serious activity—I figure $7000 to $10,000 for an annual inspection—and only use shops that really know the airplane and maintain a lot of them. While we have received reports of squawk lists on annuals reaching 25 percent of the value of the airplane, the majority of owners say that they recognize it’s expensive to maintain a pressurized single and if they stay ahead of the game, the price is not outrageous. … The company also does avionics upgrades to older models. For those willing to deal with oxygen nose hoses, rather than cabin pressurization, the savings in maintenance costs, operational simplicity and perhaps lower insurance premiums gives the Matrix appeal. The biggest handling issue is crosswinds. This is the best 6 seat single engine airplane i have seen yet! Even though my engine was seven years old with 1000 hours, Continental gave me full core credit on my trashed core and a substantial warranty adjustment toward the new engine. The engine and systems were finicky to operate, and dispatch reliability ranged from barely acceptable to just awful for some years. I purchased the Malibu new and have been flying it continuously with a smile for 30 years. The Lycoming in the Mirage was, if anything, worse in this regard. With a Hartzell or MT four-blade reversing propeller, landing distance is reduced to nearly 1000 feet. We believe safety is greatly enhanced and could site several examples but we dont want to disparage anyone. How about handling? The suit was settled after the court failed to certify the class. ), With the introduction of the Mirage, some of the systems were addressed. (Or lack of it.). Whoever was to blame for Malibu engine problems, squabbles between owners, Piper and TCM grew heated and ugly at times. The power setting and leaning would have to be right. One owner noted, You can blow through cylinders in under 500 hours without absolute vigilant operation. The Malibu is not an airplane that just any shop can fix. From the beginning, buyers favored a Lycoming because of a perceived reputation for reliability and robustness. Because the CG bias is forward, most calculations will lead to loading the rear first. The resulting forward baggage area is an impressive 33 cubic feet. Wehave flown from St. Louis to Challis, Idaho (1113 miles) into a 40-knot headwind and landed with over an hour of fuel. The engine wont stay cool at 75 percent up high in summer weather; figure on 65 percent max over 20,000 feet. As owners report, the PA-46 is well-supported by one of the best owner groups in general aviation, the Malibu/Mirage Owners and Pilots Association found at www.mmopa.com. The 550 engine is hard on cylinders, the four-blade prop is high maintenance, speed brakes are not needed, the three-blade prop is nice but costs $20,000. I was pleasantly surprised by the fit and finish of the airplane, perhaps having been biased by so many forlorn old Piper trainers that I’ve seen parked behind flying clubs. Insurance runs $6000 per year for $300,000 in hull value and $2 million liability coverage. Turbulence can be sickening to rear passengers; a yaw damper helps. The Continental in the Malibu is noticeably less vibey than the Lycoming in the Mirage, according to owners. Later models have overhead switches that are a challenge for the presbyopic set and concern us from a crashworthiness standpoint. The current version of the Mirage is the Piper M-350, which has an updated version of the Garmin G1000 to include an automatic emergency descent mode to help rescue pilots and crew if overcome by cabin pressurization failures and hypoxia. After breaking in the new engine, I equipped it with GAMIjectors. 213 ktas, 1345 nm at long range cruise. DebatableUnfortunately, substituting one engine for another didnt solve all of the Malibus problems and it brought some of its own, not the least of which is higher fuel consumption. Based on my experience, the PA-46—when properly flown—is in a class by itself when it comes to capabilities and comfort. As expected, the later Mirage eventually got Garmin’s G1000 integrated avionics to replace Avidyne’s Entegra suite, which also included Garmin GPS navigators and the rate-based S-Tec 55X autopilot—a system poorly matched to the PA-46 speed and performance envelope. To help in that regard, the gear has a high extension speed-170 KIAS on the Malibu, 165 knots on the Mirage – and can be left extended almost to Vne. Although owners generally raved-and still rave-about the airplanes impressive capabilities, the Malibu soon gained a reputation as a problem airplane. Absolutely. Yet the fact remains, nothing quite does what a Malibu does or, as one owner puts it, its expensive to operate for a piston single but cheap for what it does. The irony is that the fixes applied to the Continental made it as good as the Lycoming installation. It needed it. Many owners maintain that the Continental was and is a superior engine for the Malibu but in 1989, Piper introduced the Malibu Mirage with a Lycoming engine. I may hold the record for the longest ownership of a PA-46, having bought mine new from the factory in 1984. Unless otherwise noted, these reviews carry product pricing from the time of the original review. (Actually, some of the later Malibu models got the electric flaps and improved hydraulics for the gear. Light snow and dropping visibility require careful planning for a safe departure or possible rejected takeoff. By any measure, the big Piper’s pressurization system is several times more useable than that of the P210 and even some twins, including the aforementioned 340. Like most airplanes, the Malibu is not a fill-the-seats-and-tanks six- seater. The transition from the Saratoga was significant. Is one better than the other in terms of maintenance? You can likely pick up a 2008 Matrix for around $600,000. By 125 knots, the thrust difference between the two props is negligible so there is no discernible difference in climb performance. These two characteristics sometimes lead to abuse of the relatively delicate nosegear. Were not talking Bonanza handling here but the controls are responsive, with pitch the lightest and roll the heaviest. With the WSI NEXRAD,WX- 500 and new integrated nav units we hope to enjoy increased safety and reliability. The airplane has been amazingly trouble-free, even when compared to a Cherokee. 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