PiperJet signs up for G3000
Piper Aircraft announced here yesterday that it has selected the touchscreen-controlled Garmin G3000 as the avionics suite for its in-development single-engine PiperJet.Piper emphasized that the G3000’s focus on being intuitive is key to melding with the PiperJet’s goal of avoiding needless complexity and enhancing user-friendliness. The icon-driven interface leverages the experience Garmin gained by designing and delivering millions of consumer and other products. “PiperJet pilots will have the ability to reach out and touch real-time information,” said Piper president John Becker. “Gone will be the days of looking for cursors and cryptic, confusing menus that lead to heavy pilot workloads.”By eliminating buttons, switches and extraneous knobs, the touchscreen G3000 relies on common-sense functions that have been the mainstay of cutting-edge smart-screen technology in consumer electronics. In effect, the G3000 lets pilots quickly retrace their steps or alternatively return to the home screen (see story on page 1 of yesterday’s issue of NBAA Convention News.).At the outset of the press conference, Piper CEO Kevin Gould declared that Piper “is in a very solid position right now. I think we are starting to see an uptick.” In 2010, he said, the company wants to increase production by 50 percent over 2009, but will make a mid-course correction if conditions warrant. The company also wants to expand its product line and extend its global reach. Gould said Piper also wants to examine the continued increase in the cost of product-liability insurance, which has doubled for the company in the past four years. “It is impacting us and I think it’s impacting others,” he added.Becker said Piper has been making “excellent progress” on the PiperJet proof-of-concept airplane, with 160 flights and 230 hours in its logbook. The high-speed envelope has been explored up to Mmo, and the airplane has reached 353 ktas. The projected speed for production aircraft remains at 360 ktas.Because the Williams International FJ44-3AP engine is mounted in the tail, there were concerns about unusual pitch changes caused by the high center-thrust line. According to Becker, the “high thrust line was found to be more benign” than first thought, and a variable nozzle developed by Williams ameliorated any problems. He also said the nozzle eliminates the need to move the horizontal stabilizer, and only minor adjustments are being made to the external shape.