Piper PA-31 Navajo, with aftermarket winglets installed
Role Utility aircraft
Manufacturer Piper Aircraft
First flight 30 September 1964[1]
Introduction 30 March 1967
Status Active service
Produced 1967–1984[2]
Number built 3942[3]
Variants Piper PA-31T Cheyenne

The Piper PA-31 Navajo is a family of twin-engined utility aircraft designed and built by Piper Aircraft for small cargo and feeder airlines, and as a corporate aircraft. Production ran from 1967 to 1984. It was license-built in a number of Latin American countries.


Early Navajo with two-bladed propellers and two-part entry door

In 1962, Piper began developing a six- to eight-seat twin-engined corporate and commuter transport aircraft under the project name Inca, at the request of company founder William T. Piper.[2][4] Looking like a scaled-up PA-30 Twin Comanche, the PA-31 made its first flight on 30 September 1964, and was announced later that year.[1][4] It is a low-wing monoplane with a conventional tail, powered by two 310 hp (231 kW) Lycoming TIO-540-A turbocharged engines in "tiger shark" cowlings, a feature shared with the Twin Comanche and the PA-23 Aztec.[4][5][6]

As testing proceeded, two cabin windows were added to each fuselage side and the engines were moved further forward.[6][7] The PA-31, named "Navajo" after the native American tribe, was certified by the FAA on 24 February 1966, again in mid-1966 with an increase in maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) from 6,200 to 6,500 lb (2,812 to 2,948 kg), and deliveries began in 1967.[2][8]

The PA-31-300 was certified by the FAA in June 1967, the only variant without turbocharged engines: 300 hp (224 kW) Lycoming IO-540-M1A5 engines driving two-bladed propellers.[8] Unofficially, the initial model was referred to as the PA-31-310. Only 14 PA-31-300 were built in 1968 and 1969: the smallest variant production.[2][9]

Pressurized PA-31P with fewer and smaller windows

In January 1966, development of the PA-31P Pressurized Navajo had begun : Piper's first pressurized aircraft.[10] The PA-31P (or PA-31P-425 unofficially) was certified in late 1969.[11] It was powered by 425 hp (317 kW) Lycoming TIGO-541-E engines, had a longer nose, fewer and smaller windows, 25 US gal (95 L) fuel tanks in the engine nacelles and a one-piece airstair cabin entry door instead of the split pair of doors.[2][11][10] MTOW was increased to 7,800 lb (3,538 kg).[11] The PA-31P was produced from 1970 to 1977.[2]

The 1971 Navajo B featured air conditioning, new storage lockers in the rear of the engine nacelles, increased baggage space, a third door next to the cabin doors for easier baggage loading, and an optional separate door for the pilot to enter the cockpit.[3][12]

The PA-31-350 Chieftain, stretched by 2 ft (61 cm)

In September 1972, Piper unveiled the PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftain, a Navajo B stretched by 2 ft (61 cm) for up to ten seats, with more powerful engines and counter-rotating propellers to prevent critical engine handling problems.[8][13] The Chieftain was powered by 350 hp (261 kW) Lycoming TIO-540 variants, with an opposite-rotation LTIO-540 on the right-hand wing, and MTOW was increased to 7,000 lb (3,175 kg).[8] Deliveries started in 1973, after a delay due to a flood caused by Hurricane Agnes at Piper's factory in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania.[13][14]

The 1974 PA-31-325 Navajo C/R was base on the Navajo B.[15] The Navajo C/R had 325 hp (242 kW), lower rated versions of the Chieftain's counter-rotating engines.[8] It was certified in May 1974, and production commenced in the 1975 model year.[15] The Navajo B was also superseded in 1975 by the Navajo C.[15]

In May 1981, Piper established its T1000 Airliner Division at its Lakeland, Florida, factory.[16] The PA-31-350T1020 (or T1020) was a PA-31-350 Chieftain optimized for and marketed for the commuter airline market, without the 40 US gal (151 L) auxiliary fuel tanks in each wing.[8] Up to eleven seats could be fitted, and baggage capacity was reduced from 700 to 600 lb (318 to 272 kg) maximum.[8] The first T1020 was delivered in December 1981.[17]

The PA-31T3 (T1040) was a hybrid with the PA-31-350T1020 main fuselage, and the nose and tail of the PA-31T1 Cheyenne I.[18] The wings were similar to the Cheyenne I's, but with reduced fuel capacity and baggage lockers in the engine nacelles similar to those of the Chieftain.[11] An optional underbelly cargo pod was also available.[11][18] The Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-11 turboprop engines were the same as those of the Cheyenne I.[11] Deliveries began in July 1982.[17] A T1050 variant was proposed, with a fuselage stretch of 11 ft 6 in (3.51 m) and seating capacity for 17, but did not proceed.[18]

Pressurized PA-31P-350 Mojave

The PA-31P-350 Mojave was also a hybrid, a piston-engined Cheyenne.[19] The Mojave combined the Cheyenne I fuselage with the Chieftain tail.[19] The Chieftain's wings were strengthened, their span was 4 ft (1.2 m) wider and the fuel capacity was enlarged to 243 US gal (920 L).[19] The engines variants had intercoolers, and the rear part of the nacelles were baggage lockers.[19] The Mojave's MTOW rose by 200 lb (91 kg) to 7,200 lb (3,266 kg).[8][11] Certified in 1983, like the T1020 and T1040, the Mojave was produced in 1983 and 1984; combined production with the T1020 and T1040 was below 100 aircraft.[11][14][18] Two experimental PA-31-353s were also built in the mid-1980s.[14]

Licensed manufacture

The PA-31 series was manufactured under licence in several countries from kits of parts supplied by Piper.[20][21] Chincul SACAIFI in Argentina assembled most of the series as the PA-A-31, PA-A-31-325, PA-A-31P and PA-A-31-350 and Aero Industrial Colombiana SA (AICSA) in Colombia assembled PA-31, PA-31-325 and PA-31-350 aircraft.[22] The PA-31-350 Chieftain was also assembled under licence in Brazil by Embraer as the EMB 820C Navajo.[23][21] In 1984, Embraer subsidiary company Indústria Aeronáutica Neiva began converting Embraer EMB 820Cs by installing Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 turboprop engines; Neiva called the converted aircraft the Carajá.[24]


commuter cabin
PA-31 Navajo
Initial production version, also known unofficially as the PA-31-310.[2][8]
PA-31-300 Navajo
Variant of the Navajo with normally aspirated engines; 14 built.[2][9]
PA-31 Navajo B
Marketing name for 1971 improved variant with 310 hp (231 kW) Lycoming TIO-540-E turbo-charged piston engines, new airconditioning and optional pilot access door and optional wide utility door.[3]
PA-31 Navajo C
Marketing name for 1974 improved variant with 310 hp (231 kW) Lycoming TIO-540-A2C engines and other minor improvements.[3]
PA-31P Pressurized Navajo
Pressurized version of the PA-31 Navajo, powered by two 425-hp (317-kW) Lycoming TIGO-541-E1A piston engines.[2][11]
PA-31-325 Navajo
Referred to as the "Navajo C/R" for Counter-rotating; variant of Navajo with counter-rotating engines introduced with the PA-31-350 Chieftain. 325 hp (242 kW) Lycoming TIO-540 / LTIO-540 engines
PA-31-350 Chieftain
Stretched version of the Navajo with more powerful 350-hp (261-kW) counter-rotating engines (a Lycoming TIO-540 and a Lycoming LTIO-540) to eliminate critical engine issues.
PA-31P-350 Mojave
Piston-engined variant of the PA-31T1 Cheyenne I; 50 aircraft built.[11]
Also known as the T1020/T-1020; variant of the PA-31-350 Chieftain optimised for commuter airline use, with less baggage and fuel capacity and increased seating capacity (nine passengers). First flight September 25, 1981. 21 built.[8][25][26]
Also known as the T1040/T-1040; turboprop-powered airliner with fuselage of the PA-31-350T1020, and wings, tail and Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-11 engines of PA-31T Cheyenne. First flight July 17, 1981. 24 built.[14][27]
Experimental version of PA-31-350; two built.[14]
license-built EMB 820C
Unbuilt airliner variant with fuselage lengthened by 11 ft 6 in (3.51 m) compared to the PA-31-350.
EMB 820C
Version of Chieftain built under license by Embraer in Brazil.
Neiva Carajá
Turboprop conversion of EMB 820C, fitted with two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-27 engines flat-rated to 550shp. The Carajá's MTOW of 8,003 pounds (3,630 kg) was 1,000 pounds (454 kg) more than that of the Chieftain.[24]
Panther conversion with four-blade propellers
Colemill Panther
Re-engined Navajo with 350 hp (261 kW) Lycoming TIO-540-J2B engines, four-blade Hartzell "Q-Tip" propellers and optional winglets. Conversion designed by Colemill Enterprises of Nashville, Tennessee.[28][29] The supplemental type certificates (STCs) were subsequently sold to Mike Jones Aircraft Sales, which continues to convert PA-31, PA-31-325 and PA-31-350 variants with Colemill-developed features.[30][31]
Number built[3]
Type Built Location
PA-31 1785 Lock Haven
PA-31-350 1825 Lock Haven
T-1020 21 Lakeland
PA-31-353 2 Lakeland
PA-31P 259 Lock Haven
PA-31P-350 50 Lock Haven
Total 3942



The Navajo family is popular with air charter companies, small feeder airlines and commuter air carriers in many countries,[citation needed] and is also operated by private individuals and companies.

The PA-31 Navajo was also formerly operated in scheduled passenger airline service in the U.S. in 1968 by Air West, the predecessor of Hughes Airwest which in turn subsequently became an all-jet airline.[32][33] West Coast Airlines, the predecessor of Air West, began operating the PA-31 Navajo in passenger service in 1967 and called the aircraft the "MiniLiner".[34] West Coast, which was also operating Douglas DC-9-10 jets and Fairchild F-27 turboprops at the time, claimed to be the first "regular airline" to operate the PA-31 Navajo in scheduled service.[35][36]


Dominican Republic
United Kingdom

Accidents and incidents

Aircraft on display


Specifications (PA-31 Navajo)

PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftain

Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1976–77 [48]

General characteristics


See also

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era



  1. ^ a b Taylor 1976, p.354.
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  21. ^ a b Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil Type Certificate EA-7505-02 for EMB 820C Navajo aircraft Archived 2010-12-14 at the Wayback Machine retrieved 2010-04-11
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  29. ^ Michell 1994, p. 305.
  30. ^ "FAA Supplemental Type Certificate SA970SO" (PDF). Retrieved April 20, 2017.
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  32. ^, July 1, 1968 Air West system timetable, page 9
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  34. ^ "WCgigantic67".
  35. ^ "West Coast Airlines".
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  38. ^ a b "World Air Forces 2022". Flightglobal. 2022. Retrieved July 18, 2022.
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  45. ^ "Korean Air Lines McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30, HL7339, SouthCentral Air Piper PA-31-350, N35206, Anchorage, Alaska, December 23, 1983" (PDF). National Transportation Safety Board. August 9, 1984. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 25, 2021. Retrieved August 29, 2021.
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