Is Mirage Engine really that bad?

Philip Greenspun's Homepage : Philip Greenspun's Homepage Discussion Forums : Aviation : One Thread
Notify me of new responses
I really want to buy a new Piper Mirage, but I keep getting hung up on all the posts
saying the engine is not reliable. Surely someone must trust that engine because piper
is selling all they can make. Any thoughts on engine dependability? It seems most of the
complaints relate to older malibus. Do the new Mirages suffer from the same engine

-- Dan Wyson, August 24, 2012


I pulled the PA-46 accidents and incidents from the NTSB database for the last 10 years. It is the PA-46-350P that has the new engine. There are a lot more PA-46-310P accidents (that's the old Malibu) but I think Piper also made a lot more Malibus than Mirages. There are some engine failures in there for the 350P but it seems as though landing gear problems and pilot error are more common causes of accidents.

Why not join MMOPA for a year and join their discussion forums, attend their convention (September 19-22, 2012) and see what the latest real- world experience is.

I'm 99 percent sure that the MMOPA guys will tell you to buy a used TBM for about the same price as a new Mirage! "You just have to overlook the fact that it is made by the French."

-- Philip Greenspun, August 27, 2012

Thanks for that information. My buddy just traded his tbm700 for a mustang and the reason was that as much as he loved the plane, he said those French parts can get pretty pricey. I am also considering a Meridian. Just don't know if I want to make the operating cost jump.

-- Dan Wyson, August 28, 2012

Opinions differ on the Continental -310 engine. According to the POH that engine should be run lean of peak. Not all pilots could handle that. If it ran hot, they would enrichen the mixture a little, from old habit. But that doesn't work when lean of peak, it only makes the engine run even hotter. This was in the late 80'es, when digital engine monitoring was in its early days, and most pilots were unfamiliar with lean-of-peak operations. But according to Aviation Consumers, the engine installation also had more fundamental flaws, which more or less forced Piper to change to the thirstier and more vibration-prone, but easier-to-manage Lycoming; along with a lot of minor upgrades. (Early Malibu's would do 195 KT on only 14 gph.) However, it seems that both (early) versions suffer from more-than-average engine problems, the -350 mostly having trouble with the turbocharger and oil consumption.

Accidents rates of the PA-46 were terrible in the early days, not only because of engine problems, but because the piston PA-46 is a demanding airplane to operate, often flown at altitudes with convective weather, and with cruise indicated speeds being close to the modest maneuvering speed of only 135 KIAS. In some cases pitot heat failures (or forgetting to turn it on) lead to overspeed break-ups. It seems most accidents pilots had little experience in type and very little Malibu IFR experience.

At one point the FAA panicked and restricted the PA-46 to VFR because of the number of serious IFR accidents. But in the end the aeroplane was not found at fault. With better pilot training accident rates did improve somewhat.

Whether new Mirages suffer from the same engine problems, I do not know. But there is no doubt that the Meridian is a much easier plane to handle, besides being more reliable and of course having better performance.

-- Henrik Vaeroe, August 29, 2012