Piper Aircraft president and CEO Kevin Gould said at last month’s Sun ’n’ Fun Fly-In in Lakeland, Fla., that the PiperJet program is on track for certification in the first half of 2013. The single-engine jet is now in the detailed design phase, and vice president of engineering Dennis Olcott told AIN that the “majority” of the design has been frozen. Vero Beach, Fla.-based Piper is currently building production tooling and will start cutting metal for a production-conforming PiperJet this summer. First flight of this conforming ship is slated for next year. Olcott said Piper recently hired 60 engineers just for the PiperJet, and that parent company Imprimis is solidly backing the program.
The proof-of-concept (POC) PiperJet continues to fly seven to 10 times a week and has logged more than 340 flight hours to date. According to Olcott, the POC has performed above expectations and only “minor tweaks” will need to be incorporated in the conforming design. However, the company has backtracked from having a “rivetless,” all-metal-bonded wing on the jet; Olcott said it will be mostly metal bonded and have “some” fasteners. The backlog for the $2.2 million PiperJet has “held steady,” with orders for more than 200, Gould told AIN.