The Piper PA-42 Cheyenne was developed and built by Piper aircraft as a larger derivative of the PA-31T Cheyennes I and II (upgraded PA-31 Navajo with turboprop engines). The turboprop PA-42 Cheyenne performed its first flight on May 18, 1979, and was produced between 1979 to 1983.
In September 1977, the PA-42 Cheyenne III was initially announced. On May 18, 1979, the first production aircraft took to the air for the first time. In early 1980, it was awarded the Federal Aviation Administration certificate. In comparison with its predecessor, the PA-42-720 was longer around 1 meter, fitted with PT6A-41 turboprop engine rated at 720 shaft horsepower, and featured a T-tail configuration; the most apparent outward difference of the PA-42.
On June 30, 1980, aircraft deliveries started. During the late 1970s, the manufacturing company stayed away from building a clean-sheet light business jet to contest with the Cessna 500 Citation I. The engine was uprated to 1,000 horsepower Honeywell TPE331. The aircraft was designated as PA-42-1000 Cheyenne IV. In 1984, the version obtained aircraft certification and was produced until 1991 with a total number of 44 aircraft built. By 2018, thirty-seven still remained in service.
The PA-42 Cheyenne can accommodate one to two crew members and six to nine passengers. It has an external length of 13.2 meters, an external height of 2.4 meters, and a fuselage diameter of 1.38 meters. The cabin height is 1.35 meters, the cabin length is 5.5 meters, and the cabin width is 1.3 meters. It featured a T-tail configuration with a tail height of 4.5 meters and has a wheelbase of 3.35 meters. The wingspan is 14.5 meters and the wing area is 27.2 square meters.
The PA-42-720 has a maximum takeoff weight of 5,080 kg and a maximum landing weight of 4,685 kg. It has an empty weight of 3,101 kg, a maximum payload of 1,890 kg, and a fuel tank capacity of 562 US gal. The maximum speed is 305 knots. The aircraft has a travel range of 2,270 nautical miles. It has a service ceiling of 35,000 feet and can climb at a rate of 2,235 feet per minute. The takeoff and landing distances are 985 meters and 920 meters, respectively. The Cheyenne also featured avionics systems from Collins Aerospace such as FCB 65 five-tube electronic flight instrument system, FCB 65 flight director, and APS 65 autopilot system.