The PA-44 Seminole was developed during the heyday of the GA industry in the mid to late 1970s but fell victim to the depressed market from the early 1980s plus the growing reliability and popularity of high performance big singles. As a result it has been built in only fairly modest numbers.
A contemporary of the Gulfstream GA-7 Cougar and Beechcraft 76 Duchess, the Seminole was conceived in part as a PA-30 Twin Comanche replacement, aimed at the self flying businessperson, plus the twin engine training market. Developed from the mid 1970s, the Seminole is a twin engined development of the PA-28R Arrow series, with the Arrow's single engine replaced by two counter rotating 135kW (180hp) Lycoming O-360s, plus a new T-tail and semi tapered wings. The first flight of the prototype was made during May 1976, and production machines, designated PA-44-180, were delivered from May 1978.
The turbocharged PA-44-180T was introduced from 1980. Aside from turbocharged TO-360s, the Turbo Seminole introduced prop de-icing and an oxygen system. Just 86 PA-44-180Ts were built when Piper ceased production for the first time in late 1981. Piper reopened the Seminole line in 1988, with 30 non turbocharged PA-44s built before Piper once more suspending production in 1990, due to its parlous financial position at the time.
Once again the PA-44-180 Seminole is back in production, with manufacture restarting in 1995, although sales have been relatively modest. Piper currently offers two avionics packages for the Seminole, a standard fit and an Advanced Training Group package.
Interestingly the PA-44 is the only T-tail Piper currently in production, even though in the late 1970s most Piper aircraft had been modified to feature a T-tail.
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