With a base price of $285,000 for the IFR-capable Pilot 100i equipped with a Garmin G3X Touch avionics suite, and $259,000 for the VFR Pilot 100, Piper lopped nearly six figures off the $369,000 Archer TX price when it introduced the Pilot in April 2019.
Built for the business of teaching pilots to fly, the Pilot 100 was inspired by rising demand for low-cost trainers in recent years. That demand has survived the coronavirus pandemic, and lower-cost piston airplanes stood out among few bright spots when the General Aviation Manufacturers Association released its quarterly report on shipments and billing in September.
AOPA Technical Editor Jill Tallman had to wait a bit to get her hands on a Pilot 100, thanks to high demand for the demo and some bad weather. When she finally tracked it down in Vero Beach, Florida, where Piper is based, she found the newest Piper’s handling familiar to those with time in an Archer or a Cherokee, sharing “a heft to the controls; no surprises during power-on and power-off stalls; and an ability to produce passenger-pleasing landings with relative ease.”
The familiar Lycoming O-360 is absent from the Pilot, however. The company opted instead for a Continental Prime IO-370-D3A fuel-injected, 180-horsepower engine designed for frequent flight training service, with a 2,200-hour TBO.
American Flyers National Chief Pilot Steven Daun shared his own take on the IFR version, the Pilot 100i, in Piper’s press release:
“The Piper Pilot 100i is the perfect mix of simplicity and technology. The G3X avionics suite is the only glass platform that allows for toggling between round dial and tape displays in a touchscreen format,” Daun said. “This outperformed the G1000 suite on so many levels and was the primary reason we selected the Pilot 100i.”