PiperJet ground testing to start

 - July 7, 2008, 6:15 AM

Piper Aircraft said its PiperJet prototype is making progress, with the first engine start and run expected early this month. Last month, the Vero Beach, Fla.-based aircraft manufacturer finished all static load testing on the single-engine jet proof-of-concept airframe. The prototype has since been removed from the test fixture and is now standing on its own landing gear. Meanwhile, the airplane’s Williams FJ44-3AP engine was installed in the vertical tail location, which Piper said results in better engine efficiency because air entering the intake is undisturbed and not subject to airframe interference. At press time, workers were finishing installation of the PiperJet’s electrical and avionics systems, with first power-on tests expected to take place by the end of last month. First flight is expected this summer–possibly by the end of this month.