Piper Inks Deal With Sierra Charlie Flight School For 50 Archer TXs


Piper Aircraft announced on Wednesday (July 26) it has signed an order for 50 Archer TX trainers with FAR Part 61 flight school Sierra Charlie Aviation of Scottsdale, Arizona. Deliveries of the single-engine aircraft are scheduled to start in 2026.

Sierra Charlie already operates a twin-engine Piper Seminole. Scott Campbell, owner of Sierra Charlie Aviation (get it?), said, “The Piper Archer and Seminole are remarkable aircraft that perfectly complement our commitment to excellence in aviation and enhancing our operational capabilities while providing an unmatched experience for our students.”

Garmin’s G1000 NXi glass cockpit and G5 standby display are standard equipment in the Archer TX, and the optional air conditioning adds to the Archer’s appeal as a training aircraft in the American Southwest. Powered by a 180-HP Lycoming I0-360-B4A piston engine with a Sensenich fixed-pitch propeller, the Archer TX makes 128 knots at its 75 percent power maximum cruise speed. At slower speeds, maximum range is 522 nautical miles.

Ron Gunnarson, Piper VP of marketing, sales and customer support, said, “Sierra Charlie has chosen Piper to help elevate their program to new heights. We are excited to officially welcome them into the Piper Flight School Alliance.”

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Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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  1. I have yet to fly an aircraft with either a glass cockpit or a/C. I think in the southwest, especially right about now, that would be vital. However, we are talking flight training aircraft.

    Is glass cockpit necessary at this point? I always looked at it like this. Get your ticket first. Then move up. Learn to fly. Learn the basics. The fancy computer screens can come later.

    Years ago another FBO tried to grab my business, by offering me a chance to fly a 172 glass cockpit. For around the price of me getting into a 182 RG.

    Needless to say I went into the 182 instead.

  2. I’m a seasoned round dial pilot but yes the glass is necessary.

    Nowadays the price delta is smaller.

    The maintenance and upkeep is less.

    The desirability for new video game seasoned student pilots is higher.

    The performance for IFR is higher.

    Most people going pro will need to be familiar and comfortable with glass.

    As far as A/C goes I can see that too.

    Most training work is down low in the heat which can be miserable enough to hamper learning and to a degree even safety.

    Disclaimer: Neither of the planes I operate is glass or has A/C.

  3. Yes, air conditioning would be nice but, in central New Mexico, we see density altitudes approaching 9,000′ MSL. Don’t forget to turn off the A/C before starting the takeoff roll.

  4. Unless you are learning to fly so you can buy a Cessna 195 so you can fly around, don’t learn the old stuff. There is almost no chance to utilize it and there are far better ways to use your time. BUT very very thoroughly learn the new stuff and adopt the cautious professional attitude that allows you to develop good judgement.

  5. “Unmatched experience” alright! Like yoke burns? With increasing record temps, multiple 120°F midafternoons, not cooling below 90°F at night in that asphalt and steel heat island plus over 300 days of blazing sun per year in the Phoenix metro area, by August 2026 they are going to be wishing they had bought “made in the shade” high wing Skyhawks instead. 🙂

  6. While glass cockpits are more attractive to younger students than round gauges, I think another reason for the glass is its durability. Training aircraft are often subject to less than stellar landings – they don’t call them “bounce drills” for nothing. All that sudden vibration will take a toll on spinning mechanical gyros, resulting in higher maintenance costs and aircraft downtime eventually. Plus, the absence of a vacuum system eliminates one of the more failure prone devices in an airplane – the dry vacuum pump.