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We go once per year to Kansas City (Tom Duetch) for a day and have learned at lot over the years. Many engine problems in the Malibu have been blamed on improper leaning, rightly or wrongly. Piper never seemed able to find the right powerplant, however. If mine crashed, I would buy another one tomorrow.Why? Generally, at altitudes above 23,000 feet, the airplane engine is not happy and requires perfect operating etiquette. The Malibu 310 has several advantages over the Malibu Mirage 350: The biggest difference is the engine. The Continental in the Malibu is noticeably less vibey than the Lycoming in the Mirage, according to the ones we have flown. Either upgrade will increase your costs by about a factor of four. Add some bumps and its a handful. For more than five decades, active and dedicated aircraft owners and pilots have turned to AVIATION CONSUMER to answer their most important buying questions. Later models have overhead switches that are a challenge for the presbyopic set and concern us from a crashworthiness standpoint. The engine and systems were finicky to operate, and dispatch reliability ranged from barely acceptable to just awful for some years. I like the airplane a lot and have flown it nearly 3000 hours. The Malibu is not an airplane that just any shop can fix. But it will comfortably carry four people and baggage with full tanks, yielding a nonstop range of about 1400 miles for the Malibu and 1000 to 1200 miles for the Mirage. 213 ktas, 1345 nm at long range cruise. We’ve seen nearly 3000 FPM climb rates on DLX conversions we’ve flown. Were not talking Bonanza handling here but the controls are responsive, with pitch the lightest and roll the heaviest. In 1986, I made a decision in which I am still reaping the rewards: I downsized from a Cessna 414A twin to a Piper Malibu single. These two characteristics sometimes lead to abuse of the relatively delicate nosegear. 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. Neither a Meridian nor a King Air C90 has sufficient range to meet our needs. As the model evolved and became the Mirage, its reputation didn’t improve. Luckily, it happened under the best of conditions, daytime VFR at 17,500 feet. Well, yes. With one significant exception, the reliability of the airframe and engine has been very good with only a few squawks between annuals. Typical useful loads are 1400 pounds and 1300 pounds, respectively. Yet Piper prospered with the Malibu because of its capabilities and luxury. The cabin arrangement is superb, with the Mirage somewhat better than the original Malibu. Cylinder and valve-train problems have been evenly dispersed between the two engines, by our estimation. According to data supplied by Hartzell and MT, the four-blade prop produces about 25 percent more static thrust. The Piper PA-46 Malibu is designed by Piper Aircraft as a single-engine light aircraft that can carry one pilot and up to five passengers. 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 annual conventions are the best organized and classiest GA events Ive ever attended. Again, some of these mods appeared on later Malibus. The biggest handling issue is crosswinds. The airplane is a dream to fly. Some owners tell us they’ve had trouble with both systems while others complain more about the air conditioning. Piper had decided to enter a fast growing market and offer a pressurized single engine aircraft that could cruise at medium altitude and had excellent performance. Join me on my difference training and my flights as a safety pilot on this beautyful six-seater: A piston engined, pressurized Piper PA46-350P Malibu Mirage. Light snow and dropping visibility require careful planning for a safe departure or possible rejected takeoff. Pilots report that the gear makes an effective speedbrake. This website contains many older reviews. In cool weather at light weights, rate of climb is about 1200 FPM to 15,000 feet,falling to about800 FPM by FL200. The aircraft involved was a Piper PA-46 Malibu, a six-seat type equipped with a single piston engine, registered in the United States as N264DB, serial number 46-8408037. Both are sensitive to proper operating technique. Click here to view “Resale Values, Payload and Prices Compared.”, Click here to view “PA-46 Accidents: Engine Failures Are the Top Worry.”, 200-Knot Buzzkill: MX, Insurance Realities. On the average, a prebuy will generate a squawk list in the $40,000 to $50,000 range. It is very expensive to maintain but worth it. First test-flight in the PA-46 to verify if it works in X-Plane 11 and if so then how well it does so. I was originally looking at a Mirage but Jonathan Sisks survey had just come out detailing the Lycoming engine problems so I bought a later model (1987) Malibu with the TSIO-550 and four-bladed prop conversions. In addition, we put in $12,000 annually for fixed costs ($500/month each). With its 43-foot wingspan, the Malibu looked as much like a glider as a powered aircraft. Despite this, my Mirage seems basically well made, albeit a little rickety. Priced at around $750,000 and welcomed with at least some skepticism back in 2007 (us included), Piper has done reasonably well with the PA-46-350T Matrix, which is still in the Piper lineup today. The new engine weighed 113 pounds more, but the maximum takeoff weight was boosted by 200 pounds. The turbine-powered Meridian uses the same basic airframe the Malibu pioneered but with substantial modifications. That went against what most pilots had been taught before the current understanding of lean-of-peak ops—and a fair number ignored the instructions and ran rich of peak. These inspections average $10,000 to $12,000 per year, with a low of $4500 and a high of $20,000. We just let a contract with Thunder Aviation to redo the entire stack using the new Apollo equipment. The third annual was under $5000 due to the fact that a new engine had just been installed and many items forward of the firewall were new. (Actually, some of the later Malibu models got the electric flaps and improved hydraulics for the gear. Insurance runs $6000 per year for $300,000 in hull value and $2 million liability coverage. On the downside, Malibus were manufactured in the same milieu and function amidstthe same economic backdropwhich overhangs all GA aircraft.Small airplanes are manufacturedin the same way thatflintlocks were made in the 18th century; by hand, one at a time.This hurts QC. 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. FLIGHT PROFILE -Approx. Continental WoesThe Malibus Continental powerplant got lots of attention early on-little of it favorable-but some of the airplanes other systems didnt distinguish themselves, either. Piper M600 has a maximum takeoff weight of 2,722 kg (6,000 lb) and a useful standard load carrying capacity of up to 1,089kg (2,400 lb). The Malibu has one of the best glide ratios of any GA aircraft at 2.4nm/1000 feet. Using it requires some discretion and also regular washing of the belly to stave off corrosion. The base price was an eye-watering $275,000, but with accessories the typical invoice swelled to more than $320,000, or $550,000 in 2003 dollars. Get an engine monitor and digital fuel flow. Range in no-wind conditions is 1400 NM with reserves and three people on board. Aside from its ramp appeal, pilots were intrigued with its high-flying pressurized cabin, 200-knot cruise speed and its impressive range. MMOPA also tracks mods for the PA-46, which include three- and four-blade props, IO-550 conversions, long-range tanks, interior mods, plus the Enhanced Fight Groups redo of the Mirage engine package. The new engine weighed 113 pounds more, but the maximum takeoff weight was boosted by 200 pounds. Owners suffered through Lycoming’s massive crankshaft recall of 2002 and 2003 and weeks to months of downtime. Other than oil changes, it generally does not require additional maintenance between annual inspections. After six months of ownership, I replaced the engine with a 460-hours-since-new surplus engine from Rocket Engineering (from a PA-46 that was converted to turboprop) and a three-blade prop conversion. He doesnt have to look it up or call the factory. The airplane has been amazingly trouble-free, even when compared to a Cherokee. The resulting forward baggage area is an impressive 33 cubic feet. NTSB records reveal that more Malibus than Mirages have had engine failures leading to accidents. The hydraulics also ran the flaps on early models. As one owner put it, “It’s expensive to operate for a piston single, but cheap for what it does.” We think that fairly sums up the Malibu. Instead, as AVweb's Dave Higdon writes, from the cabin to the panel to the spinner, New Piper's turboprop single is top of the line. Although the gear can be extended at up to 170 KIAS, I cringe at the thought of doing so. The engine wont stay cool at 75 percent up high in summer weather; figure on 65 percent max over 20,000 feet. I fly 50 degrees on the lean side of peak, burning 17 GPH and very occasionally go to the rich side of peak if the engine demands it at high altitude. One owner cited this as the reason he chose the Malibu over the Mirage. The reward of my downsize includes dispatch reliability just below 99 percent. We’re not talking Bonanza handling here but the controls are responsive, with pitch the lightest and roll the heaviest. With 1000 hours and 300 hours in type, insurance is about$6500 for decent coverage. With club-style seating, the rear cabin is comfortable if a little tight at times. Get rid of the radar boot and install a standard boot when it needs to be replaced. These two characteristics sometimes lead to abuse of the relatively delicate nosegear. Piper Malibu-Mirage Owner Comments In 1986, I made a decision in which I am still reaping the rewards: I downsized from a Cessna 414A twin to a Piper Malibu single. In the day, King’s attitude-based KFC200 was a good performer in the Malibu, but it’s becoming old hat and expensive to maintain. Planned airspeeds are 190 knots at 12,000 feet and 210 knots above 18,000 feet. Our impression is that they’re about the same and that any owner contemplating buying a PA-46 should simply budget a pile of cash for annual maintenance and fix stuff as it breaks. The irony is that the fixes applied to the Continental made it as good as the Lycoming installation. Malibu pilots report cruise speeds of 205 knots TAS at FL220 at 67 percent power and 210 knots true at FL250 at 75 percent. We would pause operating out of 2500 feet or less, at least at gross weight. Engine reliability has not been good, although the airplane is such a good glider that many events didn’t become an NTSB report because the pilot was able to land safely on an airport. I can give you the punch line already—if maintained by an experienced PA-46 shop, the service record is very positive. The group has excellent information on ownership issues. To explore the market for his Magnum series mods for the Mirage-see photo, above-owner Jonathan Sisk surveyed 92 fellow Mirage owners. Occasionally a pilot will purchase a PA-46 thinking it is just a little more expensive to operate than his/her previous aircraft, only to find out that some of the systems installed on the plane are quite costly to maintain. As a cross-country airplane, the Malibu has a very nice cockpit … A bit of extra speed helps. This, along with the autopilot and weather factors, was implicated in a string of in-flight break-ups that led to a great deal of consternation (and an AD-mandated restriction on operations) in 1991. The Certificate of Registration had been issued on 11 September 2015. Many PA-46 incidents occur during landing. Unless otherwise noted, these reviews carry product pricing from the time of the original review. Wehave flown from St. Louis to Challis, Idaho (1113 miles) into a 40-knot headwind and landed with over an hour of fuel. The suit was settled after the court failed to certify the class. A delight to fly, high or low, says one owner. Most long flights are above 18,000 feet. Retraction speed is much lower, at 130 knots (Malibu) and 126 knots (Mirage) KIAS. Typical useful loads are 1600 pounds and 1500 pounds, respectively, but this may be considerably less in real world examples. T… Based on my experience, the PA-46—when properly flown—is in a class by itself when it comes to capabilities and comfort. The long wings produce another undesirable trait: roll rate at slow speeds is somewhat ponderous compared to other singles. (See Aviation Consumer, November 2000 for more information.) It was essentially the same airplane with a Lycoming TIO-540-AE2A of 350 HP. Through the Malibu/Mirage Owners and Pilots Association, I found two other owners who experienced identical failures and had to make emergency landings. I intend to do the two-day Simcom course this year. The handling characteristics of the PA-46 are indeed excellent, although they lack the rocklike stability that many instrument pilots prefer. The latter reinforces the value of having a knowledgeable maintenance shop doing routine and ongoing work on the airplane. The long wings produce another undesirable trait: The roll rate at slow speeds is somewhat ponderous compared to other singles. It seems that the TSIO-550 engine is more prone to this sort of failure because the piston crowns are dished rather than flat topped as in the TSIO-520s. Mirage pilots pay more at the gas pumps but in exchange, they go a little faster, with speeds typically of 220 knots at FL230-250 at 75 percent power burning 18.8 GPH. Even ardent supporters of the airplane admit that it requires frequent and ongoing maintenance. 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. He is the source. The payback is an excellent glide rate. Retraction speed is much lower, at 130 knots (Malibu) and 126 knots (Mirage) KIAS. The smaller diameter of the four-blade prop reduces cockpit noise. Performance, HandlingMalibu performance puts the airplane in a category with many twin-engine airplanes but on less fuel. One of these owners found cracks in pistons 1 and 5 originating from the position stamps in those piston crowns at a subsequent annual. The suit claimed that the Mirages engine reliability was so poor that New Pipers claims of the Mirage being a safe, efficient means of transportation were false and thus owners had been damaged. How many other aircraft have a performance envelope that allows takeoffs and landings in that distance, on very hot and humid days, and then a climb to FL270 and a cruise of 260 knots burning 30 GPH? The power setting and leaning would have to be right. The PA-46-310P Malibu seats up to 5 passengers plus 1 pilot. I made it into Atlantic City 40 miles away after the engine seized in descent at about 9000 feet. Baggage space is generous, with two baggage bays, one just aft of the engine compartment and the other behind the rear seats, making loading within limits easier. Pressurization allows flying above most of the weather comfortably without having the entire family wearing oxygen. My initial insurance for the first year is about $7600 and I expect about $5500 next year, assuming I have over 100 hours in the airplane. As we lounged in the back of N350CS, a new M350 on the ramp at Columbia Air Service in Groton, Conn. (GON), Gordon Ramsay, Piper program manager at Columbia Air Service, commenting on vintage Malibus, said, “At the time, they seemed very comfortable; now we realize they were fairly Spartan…this is refined.” Unless otherwise noted, these reviews carry product pricing from the time of the original review. JetProp LLC’s DL and DLX conversions solve that with an infusion of an extra few hundred horsepower. Useful load worked out to be 80 pounds less than planned; not a deal breaker, but a weight equivalent to fuel for IFR reserves. Magneto problems seem to be everyday occurrences for both powerplants, often caused by moisture contamination of pressurized mags. Plus factors of the Malibu 310 compared to the mirage 350 are: 1. I found no surprises while transitioning to the Mirage. I’ve generated a discrepancy list of $180,000 on an airplane only three hours out of an annual at a Piper dealer. When it first appeared in the mid-1980s, the PA-46 Malibu was a head turner. The airstair door is a plus, making for relatively easy entry and egress. I’ve found the cabin to be ideal for carrying Angel Flight passengers and their families. The perceived reliability of the Mirage is so bad among some owners that a class action lawsuit was filed in 2000 against New Piper and Lycoming by the Fred Misko Jr. law firm of Dallas, Texas. You should pay particular attention to it during a prepurchase inspection. Owners of both models say they can fly 1100-NM trips with IFR reserves. It needed it. In my research, I found this failure occurred several other times. On the flip side, there is no other aircraft that can do what the PA-46 does as efficiently and inexpensively. The Malibu is not an airplane that just any shop can fix. I have an ATP rating and have logged 9000 hours of flight time. It is important to get a prebuy from a competent shop. I researched this issue extensively before buying the airplane. This is the best 6 seat single engine airplane i have seen yet! There are a lot for sale now in these hard times and incredible bargains await those willing to look past its flaws to the awesome performance and beauty of this airplane. I spent an extensive amount of effort and time in the forums before I decided to buy. The Mirage also got some big-airplane type features that owners appreciate, including a dual-bus electrical system, internal windshield deice, standard dual alternators and vacuum pumps and an auxiliary heater for the cabin. During descents, its easy to get above maneuvering speed or even red line if youre not paying attention. The crack caused a hole to burn through the piston, which pressurized the crankcase and forced all the oil overboard in a matter of minutes. But no positive link was confirmed and the airplane was given a clean bill of health. The engine mount is also prone to cracking at the nose gear actuator attach point. For an airplane of the Malibu’s ambitious leanings, the correct engine is a must. I now routinely cruise at 70 to 80 degrees F lean of peak EGT. Both are sensitive to proper operating technique. ), With the introduction of the Mirage, some of the systems were addressed. That vision issometimes a bit of afrustration to theowner because you must live the contrast betweenthis vision withthe realities ofowning a complex GA airplane. No piston twin can match the performance, payload and range of a Malibu, although some can beat a Mirage. But, as noted elsewhere, many engine failures dont result in accidents and thus dont make it into NTSB records. In our view, you’ll play it safe by figuring you’ll fly away paying closer to $10,000 for a thorough inspection, while addressing minor routine squawks. After owning a Cessna 182T and T206, I purchased a 2010 Mirage. Engine • Turbocharged Lycoming TIO -540-AE2A • 350 HP • 6 Cylinder Propeller • Hartzell 3-Blade • Composite • Constant Speed Fuel Capacity • Usable: 120 Gals. Again, since there was no accident, these do not appear in the NTSB database. This results in a thinner cross section in the crown, making it more prone to cracking from stress risers caused by the stamping process. This improves the anemic short field performance of the stock Malibu. The would-be owners turned out to be correct, at least initially. If any airplane suits the old adage about much being lost betwixt lip and cup, it must certainly be Pipers ill-starred Malibu and Mirage series. You may have to descend 25,000 feet at a cruise power setting in a very clean airplane. Most ADs and Service Bulletins are historical, with very few recent issues. You must runby the book, lean of peak. (The pilot we quoted above said the same thing about Lycomings. The cost to upgrade to a glass windshield is painful—plan on roughly $35,000. That goes against what most pilots had been taught-at least before the current rage about lean-of-peak ops-and a fair number ignored the instructions and ran rich of peak. Ironically, Piper launched the Malibu in 1984 into what was an overall GA slump. It falls short in the execution-far short, sometimes-but when it works, theres nothing like it. At 75 percent power, TAS will go up to 220 KTAS but lean-of-peak operation would not keep CHTs under 400 degrees F, my personal maximum for top-end longevity. Most local shops simply dont do enough work on these airplanes to know all of the idiosyncrasies. Our most recent survey of accidents showed that 17 percent were engine-related—no change since we looked at the aircraft roughly four years ago. The auto pilot (KFC150) is a go/no-go item for me. That’s not a criticism of the Meridian—the turboprop conversions of the Cessna 206, 207 and 210, Beech Bonanza and Piper Malibu/Mirage wrestle with the same problem. Continental thus specified operating requirements for the engine that were unusual at the time, specifically lean-of-peak EGT operation. We would pause at operating out of 2500 feet or less. Aside from its advanced features, it finally gave the airplane the tight autopilot performance it deserves, especially on coupled approaches. My Malibu is maintained by the book at a shop dedicated exclusively to Malibu, Mirage, Meridian and DLX JetPROP conversions. (Again, some of these mods appeared on later Malibus.). 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