The Archer is also known as the Cherokee 180, PA-28-180, and PA-28-181. The PA-28 family dates back to 1962 and includes aircraft from the basic Cherokee 140, with its fixed gear and fixed-pitch propeller, to the Turbo Arrow, with its turbocharged engine and retractable gear. They all share the certification of the PA-28 from 1962. The Cherokee 180/Archer, introduced in 1963, is about in the middle of that group in terms of price and performance.
A 180 hp Lycoming engine powers the fixed-gear Archer. The original Cherokee 180 had Piper's famous “Hershey Bar” wing with constant chord and thickness. In 1973, the model received a stretched fuselage (an additional 5 inches), bigger wingspan and tail, and a new variant of the 180 hp Lycoming. That model was referred to as the Challenger. In 1976, the model received a new, semi-tapered wing and was referred to as the PA-28-181 Archer II. Production continues today with the Archer III.
The Archer is not particularly fast, with the 1976 and later models having a few knots higher speed over the predecessors. The cabin is snug, but acceptable. Handling is very stable and predictable, which is something that has made the Archer a popular part of the PA-28 family.
The Avidyne Entegra avionics suite became an option from 2005.