Piper PA-28 Cherokee
|Piper PA-28-236 Dakota|
|Role||Civil utility aircraft|
|First flight||14 January 1960|
The Piper PA-28 Cherokee is a family of two-seat or four-seat light aircraft built by Piper Aircraft and designed for flight training, air taxi and personal use. The PA-28 family of aircraft comprises all-metal, unpressurized, single-engined, piston-powered airplanes with low-mounted wings and tricycle landing gear. They have a single door on the right side, which is entered by stepping on the wing.
The first PA-28 received its type certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration in 1960 and the series remains in production to this day. Current models are the Warrior, Arrow, and Archer TX and LX, and the Pilot 100 and i100. The Archer was discontinued in 2009, but with investment from new company ownership, the model was put back into production in 2010.
Piper has created variations within the Cherokee family by installing engines ranging from 140 to 300 hp (105–220 kW), offering turbocharging, retractable landing gear, constant-speed propellers and stretching the fuselage to accommodate six people. The Piper PA-32 (initially known as "Cherokee Six") is a larger, six-seat variant of the PA-28. The PA-32R Saratoga variant was in production until 2009.
At the time of the Cherokee's introduction, Piper's primary single-engined, all-metal aircraft was the Piper PA-24 Comanche, a larger, faster aircraft with retractable landing gear and a constant-speed propeller. Karl Bergey, Fred Weick and John Thorp designed the Cherokee as a less expensive alternative to the Comanche, with lower manufacturing and parts costs to compete with the Cessna 172, although some later Cherokees also featured retractable gear and constant-speed propellers.
The Cherokee and Comanche lines continued in parallel production, serving different market segments for over a decade, until Comanche production was ended in 1972, to be replaced by the Piper PA-32R family.
The original design
The original Cherokees were the Cherokee 150 and Cherokee 160 (PA-28-150 and PA-28-160), which started production in 1961 (unless otherwise mentioned, the model number always refers to horsepower).
In 1962, Piper added the Cherokee 180 (PA-28-180) powered by a 180-horsepower (134-kW) Lycoming O-360 engine. The extra power made it practical to fly with all four seats filled (depending on passenger weight and fuel loading) and the model remains popular on the used-airplane market. In 1968, the cockpit was modified to replace the "push-pull"-style engine throttle controls with quadrant levers. In addition, a third window was added to each side, giving the fuselage the more modern look seen in current production.
Piper continued to expand the line rapidly. In 1963, the company introduced the even more powerful Cherokee 235 (PA-28-235), which competed favorably with the Cessna 182 Skylane for load-carrying capability. The Cherokee 235 featured a Lycoming O-540 engine de-rated to 235 horsepower (175 kW) and a longer wing which would eventually be used for the Cherokee Six. It included tip tanks of 17-gallon capacity each, bringing the total fuel capacity of the Cherokee 235 to 84 gallons. The aircraft had its fuselage stretched in 1973, giving much more leg room in the rear. The stabilator area was increased, as well. In 1973, the marketing name was changed from "235" to "Charger". In 1974, it was changed again to "Pathfinder". Production of the Pathfinder continued until 1977. No 1978 models were built. In 1979, the aircraft was given the Piper tapered wing and the name was changed again, this time to Dakota.
In 1964, the company filled in the bottom end of the line with the Cherokee 140 (PA-28-140), which was designed for training and initially shipped with only two seats. The PA-28-140 engine was slightly modified shortly after its introduction to produce 150 horsepower (112 kW), but kept the -140 name.
In 1967, Piper introduced the PA-28R-180 Cherokee Arrow. This aircraft featured a constant-speed propeller and retractable landing gear and was powered by a 180-horsepower (134-kW) Lycoming IO-360-B1E engine. A 200-hp (149-kW) version powered by a Lycoming IO-360-C1C was offered as an option beginning in 1969 and designated the PA-28R-200; the 180-hp model was dropped after 1971. At the time the Arrow was introduced, Piper removed the Cherokee 150 and Cherokee 160 from production.
The Arrow II came out in 1972, featuring a five-inch fuselage stretch to increase legroom for the rear-seat passengers. In 1977, Piper introduced the Arrow III (PA-28R-201), which featured a semi-tapered wing and longer stabilator, a design feature that had previously been introduced successfully on the PA-28-181 and provided better low-speed handling. It also featured larger fuel tanks, increasing capacity from 50 to 77 gallons.
The first turbocharged model, the PA-28R-201T, was also offered in 1977, powered by a six-cylinder Continental TSIO-360-F engine equipped with a Rajay turbocharger. A three-bladed propeller was optional.
In 1979, the Arrow was restyled again as the PA-28RT-201 Arrow IV, featuring a "T" tail that resembled the other aircraft in the Piper line at the time.
In 1971, Piper released a Cherokee 140 variant called the Cherokee Cruiser 2+2. Although the plane kept the 140 designation, it was, in fact, a 150-hp plane and was shipped mainly as a four-seat version. In 1973, the Cherokee 180 was named the Cherokee Challenger and had its fuselage lengthened slightly and its wings widened and the Cherokee 235 was named the Charger with similar airframe modifications. In 1974, Piper changed the marketing names of some of the Cherokee models again, renaming the Cruiser 2+2 (140) simply the Cruiser, the Challenger to the Archer (model PA-28-181) and the Charger (235) to Pathfinder.
In 1977, Piper stopped producing the Cruiser (140) and Pathfinder (235), but introduced a new 235-hp (175-kW) plane, the Dakota (PA-28-236), based on the Cherokee 235, Charger and Pathfinder models, but with the new semi-tapered wing.
The PA-28-201T Turbo Dakota followed the introduction of the PA-28-236 Dakota in 1979. The airframe was essentially the same as a fixed-gear Arrow III and was powered by a turbocharged Continental TSIO-360-FB engine producing 200 hp (149 kW). The aircraft did not sell well and production ended in 1980.
In 1977, Piper upgraded the Warrior to 160 hp (119 kW) PA-28-161, changing its name to Cherokee Warrior II. This aircraft had slightly improved aerodynamic wheel fairings introduced in 1978. Later models of the Warrior II, manufactured after July 1982, incorporated a gross weight increase to 2,440 pounds, giving a useful load over 900 pounds. This same aircraft, now available with a glass cockpit, was available as the Warrior III and was marketed as a training aircraft.
In 1965, Piper developed the Piper Cherokee Six, designated the PA-32, by stretching the PA-28 design. It featured a lengthened fuselage and seating for one pilot and five passengers.
Brazilian, Argentinian and Chilean production
PA-28s were built under license in Brazil as the Embraer EMB-711A and EMB-711C Corisco (PA-28R-200), EMB-711B (PA-28R-201), EMB-711T (PA-28RT-201) and EMB-711ST Corisco Turbo (PA-28RT-201T) and the EMB-712 Tupi (PA-28-181). Argentinian production was carried out by Chincul SACAIFI of San Juan, Argentina. Chincul S. A. built 960 airplanes between 1972 and 1995, including the Cherokee Archer, Dakota, Arrow and Turbo Arrow. The PA-28-236 Dakota was also assembled under license by the Maintenance Wing of the Chilean Air Force (which later became known as ENAER). By September 1982, 20 Dakotas had been assembled in Chile.
New Piper Aircraft
The original Piper Aircraft company declared bankruptcy in 1991. In 1995, the New Piper Aircraft company was created. It was renamed Piper Aircraft once again in 2006. The company originally produced one variant, the 180-horsepower (134 kW) Archer LX (PA-28-181), and began testing two diesel versions, with 135 and 155 hp.
As of 2017, four variants of the PA-28 are in production:
- Arrow with retractable landing gear, a 200 hp (149 kW) fuel injected Lycoming IO-360-C1C6 engine, a 137 kn (254 km/h) TAS maximum cruise speed, 880 nmi (1,630 km) range and a Garmin G500 avionics suite
- Archer with a 180 hp (134 kW) Lycoming O-360-A4M engine, a 128 kn (237 km/h) TAS maximum cruise speed, 522 nmi (967 km) range and a Garmin G1000 avionics suite
- Archer DX with a 155 hp (116 kW) Continental CD-155 engine, a 123 kn (228 km/h) TAS maximum cruise speed, 848 nmi (1,570 km) range and a Garmin G1000 avionics suite
- Warrior with a 160 hp (119 kW) Lycoming O-320-D3G engine, a 115 kn (213 km/h) TAS maximum cruise speed, 513 nmi (950 km) range and a Garmin G500 avionics suite
Beginning with the Warrior in 1974, Piper switched to a semi-tapered wing with the NACA 652-415 profile and a 2-foot-longer (0.61 m) wingspan. The constant chord is maintained from the root to mid-wing, at which point a tapered section sweeping backwards on the leading edge continues until the tip. Both Cherokee wing variants have an angled wing root; i.e., the wing chord is greater at the root, with the leading edge swept back as it leaves the fuselage body, rather than the wing meeting the body at a perpendicular angle.
Debate is ongoing about the relative benefits of the two wing shapes. According to the Cherokee's lead designer, Fred Weick, the semi-tapered wing was introduced to "improve stall characteristics and increase wingspan," and side-by-side testing of the two shapes found that with the semitapered wing, "the plane had better climb and flatter flight characteristics"  The original 1974 version of the wing had a structural weakness that caused a structural failure during an aerobatic maneuver, but that was fixed for all later wings. According to Terry Lee Rogers (summarizing interviews with Weick), "the outboard wing sections had a different taper than the wing root, which permitted them to retain control even when the inboard sections were stalled." 
However, designer John Thorp, who collaborated with Weick in the late 1950s on an early 180 hp version of the PA-28 (with Hershey-bar wings) and was not involved in the later semi-tapered design, publicly disagreed: "Tapered wings tend to stall outboard, reducing aileron effectiveness and increasing the likelihood of a rolloff into a spin." 
Aviation journalist Peter Garrison is also in the Hershey-bar wing camp, claiming that the semitapered shape has a neutral effect on drag: "to prevent tip stall, designers have resorted to providing the outboard portions of tapered wings with more cambered airfoil sections, drooped or enlarged leading edges, fixed or automatic leading edge slots or slats and most commonly, wing twist or "washout". The trouble with these fixes is that they all increase the drag, cancelling whatever benefit the tapered wing was supposed to deliver in the first place."
For the Cherokee family, Piper used their traditional flight-control configuration. The horizontal tail is a stabilator with an antiservo tab (sometimes termed an antibalance tab). The antiservo tab moves in the same direction of the stabilator movement, making pitch control "heavier" as the stabilator moves out of the trimmed position. Flaps can extend up to 40° and 25° flaps are normally used for a short- or soft-field takeoff. The ailerons, flaps, stabilator and stabilator trim are all controlled using cables and pulleys.
In the cockpit, all Cherokees use control yokes rather than sticks, together with rudder pedals. The pilot operates the flaps manually using a Johnson bar located between the front seats: for zero degrees, the lever is flat against the floor and is pulled up to select the detent positions of 10, 25, and 40°.
Older Cherokees use an overhead crank for stabilator trim (correctly called an antiservo tab), while later ones use a trim wheel on the floor between the front seats, immediately behind the flap bar.
All Cherokees have a brake lever under the pilot side of the instrument panel. Differential toe brakes on the rudder pedals were an optional add-on for earlier Cherokees and became standard with later models.
Some earlier Cherokees used control knobs for the throttle, mixture, and propeller advance (where applicable), while later Cherokees use a collection of two or three control levers in a throttle quadrant.
Cherokees normally include a rudder trim knob, which actually controls a set of springs acting on the rudder pedals rather than an external trim tab on the rudder—in other words, the surface is trimmed by control tension rather than aerodynamically.
- PA-28-140 Cherokee Cruiser
- Two-place, fixed landing gear landplane, Lycoming O-320-E2A or O-320-E3D engine of 150 hp (112 kW), gross weight 1,950 lb (885 kg). First certified on 14 February 1964. Approved as a 2,150 lb (975 kg) gross weight four place aircraft on 17 June 1965.
- PA-28-150 Cherokee
- Four-place, fixed landing gear landplane, Lycoming O-320-A2B or O-320-E2A engine of 150 hp (112 kW), gross weight 2,150 lb (975 kg). First certified on 2 June 1961.
- PA-28-151 Cherokee Warrior
- Four-place, fixed landing gear landplane, Lycoming O-320-E3D engine of 150 hp (112 kW), gross weight 2,325 lb (1,055 kg). First certified on 9 August 1973. Changes from the PA-28-150 include a tapered wing.
- PA-28-160 Cherokee
- Four-place, fixed landing gear landplane, Lycoming O-320-B2B or O-320-D2A engine of 160 hp (119 kW), gross weight 2,200 lb (998 kg). First certified on 31 October 1960.
- PA-28-161 Warrior II
- Four-place, fixed landing gear landplane, Lycoming O-320-D3G or O-320-D2A engine of 160 hp (119 kW), gross weight 2,325 lb (1,055 kg). First certified on 2 November 1976. Changes from the PA-28-160 include a tapered wing. Certified on 1 July 1982 for gross weight of 2,440 lb (1,107 kg).
- PA-28-161 Warrior III
- Four-place, fixed landing gear landplane, Lycoming O-320-D3G engine of 160 hp (119 kW), gross weight 2,440 lb (1,107 kg). First certified on 1 July 1994.
- PA-28-180 Cherokee
- Four-place, fixed landing gear landplane, Lycoming O-360-A3A or O-360-A4A engine of 180 hp (134 kW), gross weight 2,400 lb (1,089 kg). First certified on 3 August 1962.
- PA-28-180 Archer
- Four-place, fixed landing gear landplane, Lycoming O-360-A4A or O-360-A4M engine of 180 hp (134 kW), gross weight 2,450 lb (1,111 kg). First certified on 22 May 1972. Changes from the PA-28-180 Cherokee include a five inch fuselage extension, wing span increase, larger horizontal tail, gross weight increase and other minor changes.
- PA-28-181 Archer II
- Four-place, fixed landing gear landplane, Lycoming O-360-A4M or O-360-A4A engine of 180 hp (134 kW), gross weight 2,550 lb (1,157 kg). First certified on 8 July 1975. Changes from the PA-28-180 include a tapered wing.
- PA-28-181 Archer III
- Four-place, fixed landing gear landplane, Lycoming O-360-A4M engine of 180 hp (134 kW), gross weight 2,550 lb (1,157 kg). First certified on 30 August 1994.
- PA-28-201T Turbo Dakota
- Four-place, fixed landing gear landplane, turbocharged Continental TSIO-360-FB, engine of 200 hp (149 kW), gross weight 2,900 lb (1,315 kg). First certified on 14 December 1978.
- PA-28-235 Cherokee Pathfinder
- Four-place, fixed landing gear landplane, Lycoming O-540-B2B5, O-540-B1B5, or O-540-B4B5 engine of 235 hp (175 kW), gross weight 2,900 lb (1,315 kg). First certified on 15 July 1963.
- PA-28-235 Cherokee Pathfinder
- Four-place, fixed landing gear landplane, Lycoming O-540-B4B5 engine of 235 hp (175 kW), gross weight 3,000 lb (1,361 kg). First certified on 9 June 1972. Changes from the 1963 certified PA-28-235 Cherokee Pathfinder include a five inch fuselage extension, wing span increase, larger horizontal tail, gross weight increase and other minor changes.
- PA-28-236 Dakota
- Four-place, fixed landing gear landplane, Lycoming O-540-J3A5D engine of 235 hp (175 kW), gross weight 3,000 lb (1,361 kg). First certified on 1 June 1978. Changes from the 1972 certified PA-28-235 Cherokee Pathfinder include tapered wing.
- PA-28S-160 Cherokee
- Four-place, fixed landing gear seaplane, Lycoming O-320-D2A engine of 160 hp (119 kW), gross weight 2,140 lb (971 kg). First certified on 25 February 1963.
- PA-28S-180 Cherokee
- Four-place, fixed landing gear seaplane, Lycoming O-360-A3A or O-360-A4A engine of 180 hp (134 kW), gross weight 2,222 lb (1,008 kg). First certified on 10 May 1963.
- PA-28R-180 Arrow
- Four-place, retractable landing gear landplane, Lycoming IO-360-B1E engine of 180 hp (134 kW), gross weight 2,500 lb (1,134 kg). First certified on 8 June 1967.
- PA-28R-200 Arrow
- Four-place, retractable landing gear landplane, Lycoming IO-360-C1C engine of 200 hp (149 kW), gross weight 2,600 lb (1,179 kg). First certified on 16 January 1969.
- PA-28R-200 Arrow II
- Four-place, retractable landing gear landplane, Lycoming IO-360-C1C or C1C6 engine of 200 hp (149 kW), gross weight 2,650 lb (1,202 kg). First certified on 2 December 1971. Changes from the 1969 certified PA-28R-200 Arrow include a five inch fuselage extension, wing span increase, larger horizontal tail, gross weight increase and other minor changes.
- PA-28R-201 Arrow III
- Four-place, retractable landing gear landplane, Lycoming IO-360-C1C6 engine of 200 hp (149 kW), gross weight 2,750 lb (1,247 kg). First certified on 2 November 1976.
- PA-28R-201T Turbo Arrow III
- Four-place, retractable landing gear landplane, turbocharged Continental TSIO-360-F or TSIO-360-FB engine of 200 hp (149 kW), gross weight 2,900 lb (1,315 kg). First certified on 2 November 1976.
- PA-28RT-201 Arrow IV
- Four-place, retractable landing gear landplane, Lycoming IO-360-C1C6 engine of 200 hp (149 kW), gross weight 2,750 lb (1,247 kg). First certified on 13 November 1978. Features a T tail.
- PA-28RT-201T Turbo Arrow IV
- Four-place, retractable landing gear landplane, turbocharged Continental TSIO-360-FB engine of 200 hp (149 kW), gross weight 2,900 lb (1,315 kg). First certified on 13 November 1978. Features a T tail.
- PA-28-161 Cadet
- Two-place, fixed landing gear landplane, Lycoming O-320-D2A or -D3G engine of 160 hp (119 kW), gross weight 2,325 lb (1,055 kg). Replaced the PA-38 Tomahawk trainer in the late 1980s. Features the older Cherokee "2 side window" fuselage with the later tapered wing.
- Archer DX
- Four-place, fix landing gear landplane, turbocharged Continental CD-155 diesel engine of 155 hp (116 kW). Introduced at AERO Friedrichshafen in April 2014. The compression-ignition engine is simpler to operate, avoiding starting difficulties, carburetor icing or propeller and mixture controls, and the liquid cooling does not suffer shock cooling in a rapid descent. The turbocharger maintains full power up to over 10,000 ft (3,000 m) to climbs at 700 to 500 ft/min (3.6 to 2.5 m/s) at 86 kn (159 km/h), and cruise fuel flow is 4.2 to 6.3 US gal (16 to 24 l; 3.5 to 5.2 imp gal)/h at 50 to 75% power and a 100 to 117 kn (185 to 217 km/h) IAS. The engine must be replaced every 2,100 hours.
- Pilot 100 and Pilot i100
- New versions introduced in 2019 intended as low cost VFR and IFR trainers respectively, for the flight training market. Fixed landing gear, 180 hp Continental Prime IO-370-D3A, Garmin G3X Touch Certified avionics. IFR version includes GFC500 autopilot. Features the 2-side-window fuselage with the later tapered wing, no baggage door, no air conditioning, no instruments on right-hand panel, all-white paint with decals, two-place seating standard on 100, rear third seat with push-to-talk and Bluetooth functions standard on i100 and optional on 100.
The Cherokee series has been popular with private owners and flying clubs, with over 32,000 delivered.
Notable accidents and incidents
- September 9, 1969, Allegheny Airlines Flight 853, a Douglas DC-9-31, collided with a Piper PA-28R-180 Cruiser over Fairland, Indiana, killing all aboard both planes.
- August 28, 1972, Prince William of Gloucester was killed along with the copilot of his Piper Cherokee Arrow after crashing shortly after takeoff from Halfpenny Green in Staffordshire, England, in an air race.
- August 31, 1986, Aeroméxico Flight 498, a Douglas DC-9-32, collided with a Piper PA-28-181 Archer, owned by William Kramer, over Cerritos, California, killing all 67 people aboard both planes and 15 people on the ground. It was the worst air disaster in the history of Los Angeles, and resulted in regulatory changes requiring all airliners to be equipped with a traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS) and all light aircraft operating in terminal control areas to be equipped with a mode C transponder.
- On November 21, 1993, skydiver Alan Peters collided with the vertical stabilizer of a PA-28 while in freefall, after jumping from another aircraft. All four people aboard the PA-28 were killed after the plane lost control and crashed into a nearby forest. Peters was able to successfully open his parachute after the collision and survived, sustaining a fractured leg.
- February 18, 2010, Andrew Joseph Stack III deliberately flew his Piper PA-28-236 Dakota into Building 1 of the Echelon office complex in Austin, Texas, in an apparent revenge attack on the Internal Revenue Service office located there.
- November 17, 2011, a PA-28-180 crash four miles south of Perryville, Arkansas, claimed the life of Oklahoma State University head women's basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna, along with the pilot and another passenger.
- On 27 May 2019, Brazilian singer Gabriel Diniz was killed in the crash of a Piper PA-28-180 Cherokee Archer in Estância, Brazil.
- On 25 August 2019, award-winning music composer Jonathan Goldstein, his musician wife Hannah and their baby daughter were killed in the crash of a Piper PA-28 Arrow. They were flying from Switzerland to Italy when their aircraft crashed above the pass near the Italian border.
Specifications (1964 model PA-28-140 Cherokee 140)
Data from Piper Aircraft Owner's Handbook
- Crew: one
- Capacity: three passengers
- Length: 23 ft 3.6 in (7.102 m)
- Wingspan: 30 ft 0 in (9.14 m)
- Height: 7 ft 3.6 in (2.225 m)
- Wing area: 160 sq ft (15 m2)
- Airfoil: NACA 652-415
- Empty weight: 1,201 lb (545 kg)
- Gross weight: 2,150 lb (975 kg)
- Max takeoff weight: 2,150 lb (975 kg)
- Powerplant: 1 × Lycoming O-320-E2A 4-cylinder air-cooled horizontally-opposed piston engine, 150 hp (110 kW)
- Propellers: Sensenich M74DM
- Maximum speed: 123 kn (142 mph, 228 km/h)
- Cruise speed: 108 kn (124 mph, 200 km/h)
- Stall speed: 47 kn (54 mph, 87 km/h)
- Range: 465 nmi (535 mi, 861 km)
- Service ceiling: 14,300 ft (4,400 m)
- Rate of climb: 660 ft/min (3.4 m/s)
- Wing loading: 13.4 lb/sq ft (65 kg/m2)
- Power/mass: 0.0699 hp/lb (0.1149 kW/kg)
Notable appearances in media
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
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- Robin DR400
- SIAI-Marchetti S.205
- SOCATA Horizon
- SOCATA TB family
- Wassmer WA-51 Pacific
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