If you are a pilot or an aviation enthusiast, you have probably heard of both Beechcraft and Piper Aircraft. Both companies are well-known for high-quality manufacturing of aircraft. But which brand is better? 

Beechcraft and Piper Aircraft are two of the most well-known aircraft manufacturers in the world. Both companies have long histories of manufacturing aircraft which are loved and admired by both pilots and avgeek. These two manufacturers are considered to be a part of the “Big Three” general aviation manufacturers alongside Cessna. 

While both companies offer a wide variety of aircraft, each has unique strengths. Beechcraft is known for its innovative design and cutting-edge technology, while Piper is known for its affordable, lighter-weight aircraft.

In this comparison of Beechcraft and Piper, we will look at the history of both companies, their most popular aircraft models, what pilots have to say about them, and hopefully, which is best for you.

About Beechcraft

Headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, Beechcraft has been a division of Textron Aviation since 2014. Previously, it was part of Hawker Beechcraft before the company’s bankruptcy in 2013.

Beechcraft G36 Bonanza N127BZ
Tony Guest Beechcraft G36 Bonanza ‘N127BZ’

The company designs, manufactures, and sells a wide variety of aircraft, from small single-engine piston aircraft to large turboprop airliners, for a variety of customers, including high net worth individuals (HNWIs), corporations, airlines and militaries the world over. 

Beechcraft has evolved over the years from a small manufacturer of general aviation aircraft to a significant provider of turboprop airliners, business jets, military trainers, and light attack aircraft. 

In recent years, Beechcraft has introduced a number of new aircraft, including the Super King Air 350i and the T-6C Texan II

About Piper

Piper Aircraft is an American general aviation aircraft manufacturer located at the Vero Beach Municipal Airport in Vero Beach, Florida. The company offers a wide range of aircraft, from small single-engine pistons to larger, twin-engine turboprops, mostly for General Aviation or light corporate use.  

Piper PA32R 301 Saratoga SP ‘F GHPP
Alan Wilson Piper PA32R-301 Saratoga SP ‘F-GHPP’

In September 1927, two brothers – Clarence and Gordon Taylor – established the company as the Taylor Brothers Aircraft Manufacturing Company in Rochester, New York. The company was renamed Taylor Brothers Aircraft Corporation in April 1928, shortly before Gordon Taylor’s fatal aircraft accident on April 24.

The company was lured to Bradford, Pennsylvania, with the promise of a more spacious facility and investment funds from local entrepreneurs, including an initial investment of $400 from oil industry engineer William T. Piper.

Renamed Piper Aircraft in late 1930 after Piper acquired the company out of bankruptcy, putting many of the company’s early aircraft into mass production: namely the Cub. 

Success of the Cub inspired other similarly successful designs, and Piper quickly rose to become one of the “Big Three” of general aviation, alongside Beechcraft and Cessna. 

After passing through many different owners following William Piper’s death, the company came under direct ownership of the government of Brunei after nearly two years of indirect ownership. 

Beechcraft And Piper Aircraft’s Main Differences

As two companies with very different design philosophies, there are a few key differences that set Beechcraft and Piper aircraft apart.

Beechcraft

For one, Beechcraft models tend to be faster and have longer-range capabilities. In addition, Beechcraft aircraft typically have more powerful engines and can carry more weight. As a result, they are often used for commercial purposes or long-distance travel. 

In the past, Beechcraft has also produced jet-powered business aircraft on a large scale, namely with the Premier I, which Piper has not done successfully.

Piper

On the other hand, Piper aircraft are typically smaller and lighter. This makes them more maneuverable, which is ideal for personal or short-distance travel. Another key difference is that Beechcraft models tend to be more expensive than their Piper counterparts. 

This is partly due to Beechcraft using higher quality (and thus more expensive) materials in the construction of their aircraft, which Piper mostly avoids.  

Issues with Beechcraft Aircraft

Cost

One of the most well-known issues with Beechcraft aircraft is that they tend to be much more expensive to acquire, meaning they are available to fewer pilots overall.

This can best be seen with the example of the Bonanza G36. With a flyaway cost of $991,000, it is over 50% more expensive than its nearest Piper competitor, the Saratoga, whose flyaway price starts at $610,000. 

This similarly also applies to used aircraft made by both companies, with Beechcraft aircraft averaging a 25% higher premium when compared to a similarly aged Piper competitor with the same level of wear. 

Maintenance

Beechcraft aircraft typically require more maintenance than Piper aircraft. This is due to the more complex design and construction of Beechcraft models. As a result, Beechcraft owners may have to spend more money on maintenance over the lifetime of their aircraft.

For example, the 260 hp Continental IO-470-L engine used in the Beechcraft Baron is considerably more powerful, and complex, and thus requires a higher level of maintenance than the 220 hp Continental TSIO-360RB engine installed on the Piper PA-34 Seneca. This increases the cost to the owner and pilot.

Beechcraft Baron 58 prop
Jean-Luc Altherr Beechcraft Baron 58 prop

Safety

Beechcraft has a fairly good reputation when it comes to safety. That being said, many of its older aircraft have long been mired in controversy. 

This culminated in 2012 when Australia’s CASA ordered all Debonair, Bonanza and Baron models registered in the country to be grounded after discovering long-overlooked manufacturing defects on their flight control cables.

Issues with Piper Aircraft

Size

Piper aircraft are typically smaller with a more compact tail. This can make them more difficult to handle, especially in bad weather conditions.

On the other hand, Beechcraft models, with a larger wingspan, makes them reliable for adventurous flying, especially in terrains or conditions which require constant change of altitude and speed. 

Cruise speed

As a general rule, Piper models tend to have a slower cruise speed than their Beechcraft counterparts, even in spite of their smaller size and lighter weight. 

For example, the cruise speed of the Piper Lance is only a modest 163 mph (263 km/h) whilst the Bonanza G36 has a much more generous cruise speed of 203 mph (326 km/h).

Range

Piper aircraft have shorter range capabilities than Beechcraft models. This is due to the smaller size and thus lighter weight of Piper models. This is best shown when comparing the Beechcraft Bonanza with the Piper Lance, whose ranges stand at 930 nm (1722 km) and 875 (1620 km) respectively. 

Conversely, the range of the Beechcraft King Air 360 is 1,806 nm (3,345 km), whilst the range of the Piper M600/SLS is only a sultry 1,484 nm (2,748 km), giving Beechcraft models a considerable lead, especially when it comes to flying longer distances, without refueling

Textron Beechcraft B300 King Air 360
Tomás Del Coro Textron Beechcraft B300 King Air 360
Piper M600
Dmitry Piper M600

Visibility When Flying

One of the most important prerequisites when choosing an aircraft is visibility. This is especially important for pilots who are new to flying or who will be flying in unfamiliar territory.

Beechcraft

Beechcraft aircraft typically have good visibility from the cockpit. This is due to the large windows and the high placement of the cockpit in relation to the fuselage. As a result, Beechcraft pilots have a good view of the surrounding area.

Piper

Piper aircraft are known for their small windows and low-placed cockpits, which can create visibility problems for pilots. These visibility issues are especially significant when it comes to taxiing on the ground or while flying through bad weather. 

Pricing

The price of an aircraft is of significant consideration for many pilots and avgeeks. Beechcraft and Piper aircraft models are available in wide price ranges, depending on the make and model of the aircraft and its year of manufacture.  

If one is in the market to look for a compact aircraft, they might wonder whether to choose a Beechcraft or a Piper model. Both manufacturers offer a range of models to suit different needs and budgets.

Beechcraft

Beechcraft aircraft are more sustainable in their pricing than their Piper counterparts.  For example, the annual operating cost for the Beechcraft Twin Bonanza starts at $202,891. 

This is chiefly because Beechcraft models are produced almost entirely in the US from mostly materials mostly made in the country. Beechcraft is also known for its higher quality interiors and onboard technology, and better availability of spare parts. 

Piper

Piper aircraft are having higher operational costs than Beechcraft for a variety of reasons. For one, Piper uses less expensive materials in their construction.

Piper also outsources many of its production tasks to third-party providers, which increases the price of the spare parts. In fact, many of these third – party providers are internationally based, making after sales service in many cases, nearly difficult a task. 

Which one is better, Beechcraft or Piper aircraft?

Piper PA 31 350 and Beech B200
Bob Adams Piper PA-31-350 and Beech B200

Deciding which aircraft to buy or fly is a big decision for any pilot, but it’s especially important for those just starting. Though there are dozens of factors to consider, the most important are: cost, performance, stability and ease of maintenance: 

1. Cost

Beechcraft aircraft are typically more expensive than Piper aircraft. This is due to a variety of factors, including the fact that Beechcraft aircraft are generally larger and more complex than Piper aircraft.

2. Performance

Beechcraft models are generally preferred for their higher range and cruise speed over their Piper counterparts. On the other hand, Piper models are better at landing and taking off from short runways due to shorter balanced fields. 

3. Stability

In terms of stability, Beechcraft models such as the Bonanza and King Air, are most suited for rugged and adventurous conditions as they guarantee safety in dangerous flying conditions, but can be sluggish when climbing, especially in shorter time frames.

This is quite the contrary in Piper models like the M350, who have higher climb rates than their Beechcraft counterparts.

4. Ease of Maintenance

Piper aircraft are generally easier to maintain than Beechcraft aircraft. This is because they have fewer moving parts and are less complex overall.

Beechcraft Bonanza vs Piper Lance

When it comes to choosing the right aircraft, you’ll need to decide what size aircraft is right for you, what kind of performance you’re looking for, and what your budget is. Two popular options in the single-engine aircraft market are the Beechcraft Bonanza and the Piper Lance.

Beechcraft G36 Bonanza
Renato Spilimbergo Carvalho Beechcraft G36 Bonanza
Piper Lance
Cory W. Watts Piper Lance

Both aircraft offer a good blend of features and performance. The Beechcraft Bonanza is larger than the Piper Lance, giving it more space for passengers and cargo. It also has a slightly longer range, making it a good choice for cross-country trips.

However, the Lance is generally faster and more agile, making it a better choice if you’re looking for an aircraft that’s fun to fly. 

But if you’re only looking for a great all-around aircraft, the Beechcraft Bonanza or the Piper Lance would be an excellent choice.

Conclusion

When deciding between either a Beechcraft and Piper aircraft, it’s important to consider your needs and preferences. Both manufacturers offer a variety of models to suit different budgets and needs. 

Aircraft made by Beechcraft cost more than those made by Piper, but they offer better visibility from the cockpit and superior performance. On the other hand, Piper aircraft are cheaper to purchase and operate but may not be as well-suited for novice pilots. 

Ultimately, the best decision for you is the aircraft that best suits your needs, budget and experience as a pilot (or just looks the best if you’re an avgeek!) 

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About the Author

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Salomon Marco
Salomon has been interested in aviation ever since his parents took him on a Boeing 720 to see his relatives. When he’s not writing his latest aviation article, he can be found planespotting, reading up on on aviation news or in the cockpit of his favorite aircraft!