Piper Aircraft delivered the 550th Meridian turboprop single yesterday to a Swedish customer, Håkan Svensson, the CEO of Öckerö-based Aston Harald. This also marked the first new Meridian to enter service in Sweden. Svensson, who is pursuing his pilot license, plans to use the aircraft in his maritime and transportation consultancy business. The Meridian will be operated by a professional pilot until he achieves sufficient ratings and experience to fly as pilot-in-command in European airspace.
Piper Aircraft is launching a new initiative here at NBAA to promote its flagship Meridian single-engine turboprop as a business aircraft. The six-seat, $2.176 million M-Class Meridian features a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-42A 500 shp engine and Garmin G1000 glass panel avionics. Top cruise speed is 260 knots and maximum range is 1,000 nm.
Piper has selected Hartzell Engine Technologies to provide its I-series cabin heater and ES-series 24-volt/100-amp alternators as standard fit on new Garmin G1000-equipped Seminole piston-twin trainers.
“To support the electrical needs of the latest Piper Seminole’s advanced avionics and systems, Piper Aircraft chose to upgrade it to 24-volt capability,” said Hartzell Engine Technologies president Mike Disbrow.
Piper Aircraft ended 2012 with nearly $149 million in annual revenue from new aircraft sales, up more than 13 percent from the previous year. This revenue increase was the result of a 16-percent rise in deliveries last year to 158 aircraft, 22 more than in 2011. Piper delivered 93 of its top-line M-Class aircraft–including 39 Meridian turboprop singles–compared with 82 the previous year, which also helped the annual revenue mix. Meanwhile, the company named Jack Mill as vice president of engineering today.
Piper Aircraft appointed James Funk as vice president of operations today, a position where he will be responsible for aircraft manufacturing operations, production engineering, logistics and quality. He brings nearly 30 years of operations management, manufacturing engineering and program leadership experience to Piper. Before joining Piper, Funk was Bombardier Learjet’s general manager of operations for the Learjet 85 program. Before that, he was vice president of operations for Hawker Beechcraft and its predecessor, Raytheon Aircraft.
Piper Aircraft and the state of Florida reached an agreement yesterday to amend a 2008 contract to retain the company’s operations in Florida and increase investment in aircraft manufacturing facilities. Since Piper is staying in Florida and has exceeded its research and development investment obligations under the previous agreement, Florida will permit Piper to retain half of approximately $6.6 million in economic development incentives already awarded to the company.
Piper Aircraft named Piper Summit Aircraft China Beijing as its authorized dealer in China for sales of new Meridian turboprop singles. According to Piper Summit CEO Jack Chan, the annual growth rate for piston and turboprop aircraft operating in China is nearly 40 percent, with this fleet expected to expand from 1,700 aircraft earlier this year to about 7,700 by 2015. The new Piper dealer conducted Meridian demonstrations for potential customers as the airplane flew en route to Airshow China 2012 earlier this month in Zhuhai.
On Saturday at Vero Beach (Fla.) Airport, Piper Aircraft celebrated its 75th anniversary with a fly-in. More than 60 Piper airplanes, ranging from J-3 Cubs to Meridian turboprop singles, flew in for the diamond anniversary event. During the fly-in, Piper announced a Garmin G1000 upgrade for its Seminole and Archer, as well as a launch order from the Florida Institute of Technology for eight G1000-equipped Archers and options for 16 more. Piper and FIT also announced a career alliance to provide enhanced vocational opportunities for FIT aviation program graduates.
The past year has been challenging but also marked a turnaround for Piper Aircraft. CEO Simon Caldecott has been on the job for a year, and the first decision he was faced with was huge: what to do about the single-engine PiperJet Altaire program. While just before last year’s NBAA show Piper had given every indication that the Altaire would continue, Caldecott used the occasion to announce that the program was being put on indefinite hold, although Piper has retained all the intellectual property developed for the Altaire.
After years of rumors about development of a fast, low-wing, single-engine turboprop, Cessna unveiled an aircraft interior mock-up in July to solicit prospective customer interest and opinion, gathering more than 350 detailed surveys during EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis. While Cessna has not decided if it will move forward with the aircraft, spokesman Andy Woodward said the company was “very encouraged” by the positive feedback the concept has received to date.
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