Piper PA-28 Cherokee

PA-28 Cherokee
Piper PA-28-236 Dakota
RoleCivil utility aircraft
ManufacturerPiper Aircraft
First flight14 January 1960[1]
StatusIn production
Number built32,778+
Unit cost
US$467,000 (PA-28R-201 Arrow, 2017)[2]

The Piper PA-28 Cherokee is a family of light aircraft built by Piper Aircraft and designed for flight training, air taxi and personal use.[3] 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 copilot side, which is entered by stepping on the wing.[3][4]

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 the Archer TX and LX.[5][6] The Archer was discontinued in 2009, but with investment from new company ownership, the model was put back into production in 2010.[7][8][9]

The PA-28 series competes with the high-winged Cessna 172 and the similarly low-winged Grumman American AA-5 series and Beechcraft Musketeer designs.[10]

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 propeller 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.[3][11]


PA-28-151, built in 1976

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,[12] 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.[3]

The original design

The PA-28-161 Warrior II flying in the livery of the Singapore Youth Flying Club – it is still widely used in basic flight training worldwide.
PA-28-180 on floats
PA-28-140, built in 1966
Piper PA-28R-200 Cherokee Arrow showing the landing gear doors that distinguish this retractable-gear model
Piper PA-28RT-201 Cherokee Arrow IV with its distinctive "T" tail
Polly Vacher, a record-breaking UK pilot, in her PA-28-236 Dakota: The aircraft was built in 1994.

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).[3]

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.[3] 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.[13]

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 derated 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.[3] 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.[citation needed]

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.[3] 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.[14] At the time the Arrow was introduced, Piper removed the Cherokee 150 and Cherokee 160 from production.[3][15][16]

The Arrow II came out in 1972, featuring a five-inch fuselage stretch to increase legroom for the rear-seat passengers.[14] In 1977, Piper introduced the Arrow III (PA-28R-201), which featured a semitapered 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.[16]

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.[14]

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.[16]

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.[3] 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.[15]

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, semitapered wing.[3][15]

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 semitapered wing.[15]

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.[17]

In 1978, 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. 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.[6][18]


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.[15]

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.[19] 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.[20]

New Piper Aircraft

Piper Archer DX

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),[21] and began testing two diesel versions, with 135 and 155 hp.[22]

As of 2017, four variants of the PA-28 are in production:

  • Arrow[23] 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[24] 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[25] 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[26] 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
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