In May, Piper Aircraft confirmed that it was looking for suitable sites to relocate the company’s headquarters and to establish PiperJet manufacturing. A significant factor in the move is insurance costs, which have risen tenfold due to hurricanes. “Insurance in Florida is skyrocketing,” said a Piper spokesman.
Piper PA-47 PiperJet
The race is on; the first manufacturer to certify, build and deliver a single-engine jet that offers reasonable performance and price might have the market to itself until Piper Aircraft’s PiperJet joins the fray in 2010. Unless Cirrus Design has far more up its sleeve than it has revealed thus far, it appears that Diamond will be first to market with its surprisingly roomy D-Jet.
The annual Sun ’n’ Fun event in Lakeland, Fla., is similar to the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture Oshkosh, with its emphasis on sport aviation and light aircraft, but (as at Oshkosh) a growing number of turboprop and jet manufacturers are exhibiting at the smaller show at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport.
Piper president and CEO Jim Bass said that orders for the single-engine PiperJet have reached 186 and that the company “has made great headway on the PiperJet.” The company probably won’t select the avionics package until later this year, he said, and Piper is considering building a new PiperJet assembly facility elsewhere than the company’s Vero Beach, Fla. headquarters.
The first flight-worthy Williams FJ44-3AP engine for the prototype PiperJet has arrived at Piper Aircraft’s factory in Vero Beach, Fla. Engineers are still fine-tuning the design, and wind-tunnel testing continues while technicians manufacture tooling for the prototype. Three to five prototypes will be built.
Piper Aircraft, whose dealers are working with Honda Aircraft to sell and service the HondaJet, continues with its plans to find a suitable location to build the single-engine PiperJet. While there is no joint effort in engineering and manufacturing of the two jets, “Piper continues to enjoy a strong cooperative relationship with Honda as both companies develop their respective jet programs,” said a Piper spokesman.
It was no big secret before this year’s NBAA Convention that Piper would be announcing plans for a single-engine jet, and indeed Piper did unveil its PiperJet on October 17. At the time, Piper had not yet selected an engine manufacturer. Early last month at the AOPA Expo in Palm Springs, Calif., Piper revealed that a Williams International FJ44-3AP will power the PiperJet.
Piper’s prolonged pondering of a jet reached fruition at the NBAA Convention with an announcement today that it will design and build a very light jet with a “high-speed natural laminar flow wing” and powered by a single 2,400-pound-thrust turbofan. Piper plans to fly the PiperJet in spring 2008 and start deliveries in the first half of 2010.
At AOPA Expo yesterday Piper announced it had selected a variant of the Williams International FJ44-3A turbofan to power its new PiperJet. The Fadec-equipped FJ44-3AP will have a maximum thrust rating of 3,000 pounds but will be derated to 2,400 pounds for use in the new single-engine very light jet. Piper plans to fly the PiperJet in spring 2008 and start deliveries in 2010.
Piper Aircraft president and CEO Jim Bass yesterday unveiled the company’s next generation aircraft–the single-engine, six-seat PiperJet, an airplane priced at just under $2.2 million that adds another serious player to the market for very light jets.