How would I have to modify the Piper PA-28 to fly at 25,000 feet (same as PA-34 and PA-46)? Could it fly higher?

Larger wings, other wingform, bigger motor something else? Do you have to change the whole construction of the plane?

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    $\begingroup$ Depends on how high you want to go. For the engine you'll probably need to switch to a turbocharged engine, which was available in some PA-28's like the Turbo Dakota and Turbo Arrow. Even then you only got about a 6000 foot increase over the non-turbo versions. You also have to realize that above FL180 you need to be operating IFR, so your aircraft must be IFR equipped and you be rated as a pilot. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Jan 6 '17 at 21:18
  • $\begingroup$ I was just wondering, how far you could push a modified piper $\endgroup$ – Frezzley Jan 6 '17 at 21:24
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    $\begingroup$ That depends on the depth of your wallet. At some point it will be cheaper to just buy an aircraft that has a maximum ceiling around where you want to fly. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Jan 6 '17 at 21:25
  • $\begingroup$ Related, possibly a dupe $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Jan 6 '17 at 21:44
  • $\begingroup$ @fooot what would you modify on the question? You're very welcome to make changes. $\endgroup$ – Frezzley Jan 6 '17 at 22:00

The Turbo Dakota (PA-28-201T) is very close to what you seem to be describing and is likely much less expensive to buy outright vs. the time and materials required to modify a lowly PA-28-1xx. The published ceiling is FL200 with its TSIO-360 but at light weights* I'm sure a determined pilot could coax it to FL230 or FL250.

So, the answer is: a big TSIO engine. The 260hp TSIO-470-B (only TSIO-470 made to my knowledge) would probably do the trick. A TSIO-520 has taken me to FL250 in a T210 so I know it would probably take a Cherokee at least that high assuming that you successfully attach the engine to the plane (approvals, engineering, mechanical, W&B, etc).

*The Dakota is one of the few small single engine planes with a gross weight of more than twice its empty weight leaving plenty of wiggle room for a pilot seeking to extract better than book performance from the plane.

**Answer assumes you have an O2 system that will do the job at FL250.


One of the biggest drivers is here would be the supplemental oxygen system aboard the aircraft. Currently a PA 28 is not certified for high-altitude operations i.e. flight above FL260, though existing turbo normalizing STC kits would physically allow the aircraft to fly higher. Treading into the death zone requires pressure breathing oxygen systems to live. There are also additional requirements for avionics and systems needed for high altitude flight eg DMEs, altimeters rated for operation near or in the tropopause, etc. A Piper Archer was just never intended to tread that high


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