An April 28 Indian River County budget resolution approved $12 million to keep Piper Aircraft at its headquarters in Vero Beach, Fla., and the state of Florida added another $20 million.
At the recent Sun ’n’ Fun Fly-In in Lakeland, Fla., Piper Aircraft v-p of sales and marketing Bob Kromer and Cirrus Design CEO Alan Klapmeier told AIN about the progress of their respective single-engine jet prototypes. Both companies’ airplanes are nearly complete and will soon be in the air.
Piper Aircraft and Cirrus Design are neck and neck on progress with their respective single-engine very light jet prototypes, and the two competing airplanes could fly within days of each other in July. Workers at Cirrus are finishing V1 (the “V” stands for “verification”), an aerodynamically conforming–but not entirely systems conforming–Cirrus Jet prototype.
On June 14 a JetProp DLX-converted 1988 Piper Malibu Mirage crashed in Osteen, Fla., while on an IFR flight from Raleigh-Durham, N.C., to Marco Island, Fla. According to the NTSB’s preliminary report, radio and radar contact were lost at 8:39 p.m. local time as the pilot attempted to deviate around thunderstorms at FL 260. The right wing separated and was found three days later, but not at the main crash site.
JETPROP DLX CONVERSION OF PIPER PA-46-310P, HILTON HEAD, S.C., AUG. 31, 2003–P&WC PT6-powered JetProp DLX Piper Malibu conversion N70DL, registered to Hickory Travel and operated by a private pilot, collided with trees, crashed and caught fire during an attempted return-to-land maneuver at Hilton Head Airport (HXD) at 3:29 p.m. EDT. The pilot and only passenger were killed and the airplane was substantially damaged.
It all began when Paul “Mac” Langston identified a need for an aeromedical helicopter program in the Florida panhandle. Langston was literally born into aviation, since his dad was a Quincy, Fla.-based cropduster for tobacco and cotton farmers from Florida to Louisiana.
Piper Aircraft laid off another 150 workers last month, not because of the slow economy, as in previous layoffs, but due solely to last year’s ADs and recall of Textron Lycoming engines, according to a company spokesman. Piper Saratogas and Mirages are among the airplanes powered by Lycoming engines. Piper also claimed the problem stopped the “step up” process wherein owners of Saratogas and Mirages move up to the Meridian turboprop.
Piper Aircraft is patenting a new metal-bonding technique that will be key to the manufacture of the all-aluminum, $2.2 million PiperJet. According to Piper president and CEO James Bass, the intent is to eliminate the use of rivets altogether in the production wing and limit the number of rivets used in the main structure for the single-engine jet. Piper is also patenting a nondestructive testing system for its bonded structures.
After the PiperJet was announced at NBAA 2006, Piper was besieged with unsolicited offers by officials from more than 60 cities to move production of the single-engine jet to their communities. This spring Piper whittled down the site selection to three cities–Vero Beach, Fla., where the manufacturer is currently located; Oklahoma City; and Albuquerque, N.M.–and a decision is expected soon.
Piper Aircraft is patenting a new metal bonding technique that will be key to the manufacture of the PiperJet’s all-aluminum wing. According to Piper president and CEO James Bass, the intent is to eliminate the use of rivets in the production wing for the single-engine jet. Bass told AIN that the bonding technique allows for “lower labor costs and higher quality,” as well as an aerodynamically clean natural-laminar-flow wing.