Compare the fixed costs, variable cost, and performance of Piper Navajo Chieftain PA31 to over 500 jets, turboprops, helicopters and piston aircraft, with accurate data from Conklin & de Decker.
The PA-31 Navajo and Navajo Chieftain were Piper’s entry into the cabin class twin and also formed the basis for the Cheyenne turboprop series. Introduced in 1967, the Navajo was Piper’s answer to the 400 series Cessna twins. Given Piper’s success with the PA-28 formula of many models from one design, it is no surprise they did the same with the Navajo. The aircraft was produced in six different variants and two fuselage lengths (not counting the turboprops).
The Navajo Chieftain was the largest and most successful Navajo. The Chieftain had both more payload and more room over the other Navajo models. Two 350 hp turbocharged Lycomings power the Chieftain. The cabin floor was strengthened, an additional window was added, and the gross weight increased compared to other Navajos. Nearly 2,000 Chieftains were produced and the aircraft saw success in the passenger, cargo and commuter markets. The Chieftain was produced until 1984.
Like most Piper products, the Navajo handles well and is fairly predictable. As with most twins, engine-out situations exist where level flight on one engine is not possible. Given the many Navajo models, it is surprising to note that the book performance across the line is surprisingly close.
Navajo Chieftain PA31
Lycoming Ly TIO-540-J2BD 2