Piper Pilot Models Drawing Strong Response

 - April 10, 2019, 9:23 AM

Piper Aircraft is revisiting plans for opening the order book this summer and providing “limited quantities” of its newly introduced Piper Pilot 100 and 100i basic trainers after receiving a strong response from the training community, Piper president and CEO Simon Caldecott said today at Aero Friedrichshafen 2019. The company unveiled the models last Tuesday during Sun n' Fun, detailing plans to bring to market VFR and IFR derivatives of the PA-28 with a Continental Prime IO-370-D3A engine and Garmin G3X Touch Certified avionics. Priced at $259,000 for the VFR Pilot 100 and $285,000 for the IFR Pilot 100i, the models are designed to provide affordable training options for flight schools, Caldecott said.

The response was much greater than anticipated, and at least four major flight schools have asked to become launch customers, Caldecott said. Piper initially had planned to open the order book during EAA AirVenture in July, but now might open it sooner. Also, production of the models could ramp up sooner than expected. As far as availability, the engine and avionics must be STC’d on the airframe, but the PA-28 airframe itself already has a type certificate. The company also must get European validation.

Piper is gathering input on the aircraft during Aero Friedrichshafen, he said. But they are coming as Piper’s training sales are skyrocketing. Caldecott noted that when he joined Piper in 2009, the Vero Beach, Florida manufacturer had delivered 14 trainers. This year, it will be on pace to deliver more than 200 of its Archer and Seminole trainers.

Piper also is seeing increasing movement on its M-Class products in Europe, Caldecott said. Piper recently added a new dealer in France, Flying Smart, which will represent Piper in Belgium, France, Luxembourg, and Monaco. Flying Smart will take delivery of its first M500 later this month.

Meanwhile, Piper just obtained EASA validation of the G1000NXi flight deck aboard the M500. Available for both forward and retrofit, the avionics features enhanced situational awareness, visual approaches, and map overlay on the horizontal situation indicator. Faster processing power enables improved map rendering and smoother display panning. Optional features include SurfaceWatch, Flight Stream 510 wireless gateway, and improved ADS-B options.