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The Piper PA-28 Cherokee is a family of light aircraft designed for flight training, air taxi and personal use. Members of the PA-28 family are all-metal, unpressurized, single-engine piston-powered airplanes with low-mounted wings and tricycle landing gear.
Piper received the first PA-28 Cherokee type certificate from the FAA in 1960 and the series remains in production in 2011. Current models are the Arrow and Warrior III.
Piper has created variations within the Cherokee family by installing engines ranging from 140 to 300 hp (105-220 kW), providing turbocharging, offering fixed or retractable landing gear, fixed-pitch or constant speed propellers, and stretching the fuselage to accommodate 6 people. The larger, six-seat variant of the PA-28 is generally the PA-32; earlier versions were known as the "Cherokee Six," and a PA-32 version is still in production today under the model name Saratoga.
At the time of the Cherokee's introduction, Piper's primary single-engine, 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 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 controls with 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 for load-carrying capability. The Cherokee 235 featured a Lycoming O-540 engine derated to 235 hp 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 the Charger. In 1974 it was changed again to Pathfinder. Production of the Pathfinder continued until 1977. There was no 1978 model year. In 1979 the aircraft was given the Piper tapered wing and was again renamed the 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. One source of confusion is the fact that 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, 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 re-styled 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 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. 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'' the ''Archer'' (model PA-28-181) and the ''Charger'' (235) to ''Pathfinder''.
Piper reintroduced the Cherokee 150 in 1974, renaming it the ''Cherokee Warrior'' (PA-28-151) and giving it the Archer's stretched body and a new, semi-tapered wing.
In 1977, Piper stopped producing the Cruiser (140) and Pathfinder (235), but introduced a new 235 horsepower (175 kW) plane, the ''Dakota'' (PA-28-236), based on the Cherokee 235, ''Charger,'' ''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 turbo-charged Continental TSIO-360-FB engine producing 200 hp (149 kW). The aircraft did not sell well and production ended in 1980.
In 1978, Piper upgraded the Warrior to 160 horsepower (119 kW) PA-28-161, changing its name to ''Cherokee Warrior II''. This aircraft had slightly improved aerodynamic wheel fairings. Later models of the Warrior II, manufactured after July 1982, incorporate a gross weight increase to 2,440 pounds, giving a useful load over 900 pounds. This same aircraft, now available with a glass cockpit , is available as the Warrior III, and is 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 and Argentinian 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 SA of San Juan, Argentina . Chincul SA built 960 airplanes between 1972 and 1995, including the Cherokee Archer, Dakota, Arrow, Turbo Arrow.
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 currently produces three PA-28 Cherokee variants: the 160 horsepower (119 kW) Warrior III (PA-28-161), the 180 horsepower (134 kW) Archer III (PA-28-181), and the 200 horsepower (149 kW) retractable Arrow III (PA-28R-201). All are now available with Avidyne Entegra glass cockpits.
Originally, all Cherokees had a constant-chord rectangular planform wing, popularly called the ''Hershey Bar '' wing because of its resemblance to the convex, rectangular chocolate bar.
Beginning with the Warrior in 1974, Piper switched to a tapered wing with the NACA 652-415 profile and a 2-foot-longer (0.61 m) wingspan. Both Cherokee wing variants have an angled wing root; i.e., the wing leading edge is swept forward as it nears the fuselage body, rather than meeting the body at a perpendicular angle.
The documented takeoff distance, cruise speed, and landing distance of Cherokees of the same horsepower with different wing types is very similar and some of the differences that do exist in later taper-wing models can be attributed to better fairings and seals rather than the different wing design. The Hershey Bar wing design is not markedly inferior to the tapered design, and in some ways is quite advantageous. As Piper Cherokee designer John Thorp says: "Tapered wings tend to stall outboard, reducing aileron effectiveness and increasing the likelihood of a rolloff into a spin."
As Peter Garrison further explains: "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, canceling 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 anti-servo tab (sometimes termed an anti-balance tab). The anti-servo 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 40º, but are considerably smaller, and arguably less effective, than the flaps on a Cessna 172. Normally, 25º flaps are 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 anti servo-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 engine of 150 hp, gross weight 1950 lb. First certified on 14 February 1964. Approved as a 2150 lb gross weight four place aircraft on 17 June 1965.
Four place, fixed landing gear landplane, Lycoming O-320-A2B or O-320-E2A engine of 150 hp, gross weight 2150 lb. First certified on 2 June 1961.
Four place, fixed landing gear landplane, Lycoming O-320-E3D engine of 150 hp, gross weight 2335 lb. First certified on 9 August 1973. Changes from the PA-28-150 include a tapered wing.
Four place, fixed landing gear landplane, Lycoming O-320-B2B or O-320-D2A engine of 160 hp, gross weight 2200 lb. First certified on 31 October 1960.
Four place, fixed landing gear landplane, Lycoming O-320-D3G or O-320-D2A engine of 160 hp, gross weight 2325 lb. 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 2440 lb.
Four place, fixed landing gear landplane, Lycoming O-320-D3G engine of 160 hp, gross weight 2440 lb. First certified on 1 July 1994.
Four place, fixed landing gear landplane, Lycoming O-360-A3A or O-360-A4A engine of 180 hp, gross weight 2400 lb. First certified on 3 August 1962.
Four place, fixed landing gear landplane, Lycoming O-360-A4A or O-360-A4M engine of 180 hp, gross weight 2450. 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, gross weight 2550 lb. 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, gross weight 2550 lb. First certified on 30 August 1994.
PA-28-201T Turbo Dakota
Four place, fixed landing gear landplane, turbocharged Continental TSIO-360-FB engine of 1200 hp, gross weight 2900 lb. 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, gross weight 2900 lb. 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, gross weight 3000 lb. 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.
Four place, fixed landing gear landplane, Lycoming O-540-J3A5D engine of 235 hp, gross weight 3000 lb. First certified on 1 June 1978. Changes from the 1972 certified PA-28-235 Cherokee Pathfinder include tapered wing.
Four place, fixed landing gear seaplane, Lycoming O-320-D2A engine of 160 hp, gross weight 2140 lb. First certified on 25 February 1963.
Four place, fixed landing gear seaplane, Lycoming O-360-A3A or O-360-A4A engine of 180 lb, gross weight 2222 lb. First certified on 10 May 1963.
Four place, retractable landing gear landplane, Lycoming IO-360-B1E engine of , gross weight . First certified on 8 June 1967.
Four place, retractable landing gear landplane, Lycoming IO-360-C1C engine of 180 hp, gross weight 2500 lb. 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 lb, gross weight 2650 lb. 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 , gross weight . 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, gross weight 2900 lb. 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, gross weight 2750 lb. 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, gross weight 2900 lb. First certified on 13 November 1978. Features a T tail.
The Cherokee series has been popular with private owners and flying clubs with over 32000 delivered.
Accidents and Incidents
*September 9, 1969, Allegheny Airlines Flight 853 collided with a Piper PA-28-181 Archer over the city of Fairland, Indiana , killing all aboard both planes.
*August 31, 1986, Aeroméxico Flight 498 collided with a Piper PA-28-181 Archer over the city of 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 traffic alert and collision avoidance systems (TCAS) and all light aircraft operating in terminal control areas be equipped with a mode C transponder .
*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.