Piper Aircraft announced yesterday that it has placed the PiperJet Altaire program “under review,” clouding the single-engine jet’s future. It also named Simon Caldecott as its interim president and CEO, making him the fifth person to hold the position since Imprimis Brunei acquired the Vero Beach, Fla. aircraft manufacturer in May 2009. In the same announcement, the company revealed that Piper executive vice president Randy Groom “has left the company.”
The review of the PiperJet comes on the heels of the NBAA Convention, where Piper prominently displayed a cabin mockup of the jet at its booth. In fact, one Piper dealer told AIN at last week’s show that the $2.8 million PiperJet continued to see “considerable” customer demand despite the weakened market for light jets. According to a Piper spokesman, “Everything is on the table” during the PiperJet review, “including cancellation.” Results of the review will be released “soon,” he said.
Teal Group vice president Richard Aboulafia predicts Piper is “unlikely to find the resources needed to bring [the PiperJet] to market, or the market reception needed to make it a success.” Business aviation analyst Brian Foley told AIN that the market for single-engine jets is “bit of an unknown,” adding, “It’s not uncommon in this environment for new aircraft programs to be delayed or cancelled to preserve cash.”
Caldecott–who joined Piper in 2009 and most recently was vice president of operations–replaces Geoffrey Berger, the former Imprimis managing director who has led the aircraft maker since July last year. Groom joined Piper in April last year and oversaw marketing, sales, support and dealers; the company said it will soon be making a follow-on announcement about who will head up these activities.
Piper said the first three years of PiperJet Altaire production is sold out, though it wouldn’t specify delivery rates.