By Benet Wilson
January 12, 2011
In 2010, Piper Aircraft delivered more aircraft, stepped up development of its Altaire single jet and prepared for an unprecedented global push in 2011 as it continues to strengthen its position as a global airplane manufacturer, according to interim CEO Geoffrey Berger.
“During 2010, the first full year since Imprimis acquired Piper, the company made memorable and notable progress in a number of important areas,” says Berger, who was named CEO in July 2010. Piper says it will announce a permanent CEO in “the near future.”
The company currently employs 814 workers, says Marketing Director Jackie Carlon. It implemented nine months worth of weekly employee furloughs in 2009, and did a week-long furlough in August 2010 (BA, July 5/12).
Piper continually reviews its sales expectations against its production rates, but has not made any furlough announcements for 2011. This year, Piper is expecting a flat market, says Carlon.
While the company will not release it 2010 deliveries until next month, it did note that production activity at its Vero Beach, Fla., manufacturing campus during 2010 was up by more than 75% over 2009, despite a significant overall decline in aircraft deliveries by other manufacturers. Piper credited these numbers to its aggressive globalization efforts.
The manufacturer opened two new global sales offices to serve the Americas region, as well as one in Amsterdam to support the European, Middle East and Africa regions. The company’s third regional sales office, located in Brunei, was reinforced with the addition of the company’s director of global fleet sales, whose goal is to enlarge the company’s presence in this expanding segment, particularly in the Asia/Pacific region.
Piper extended its global reach in 2010 with fleet sales of more than 45 aircraft to pilot training institutions throughout Asia/Pacific and the U.S. “While Piper is not disclosing fleet purchase prices, retail value of the single-engine and twin-engine aircraft sold to flight training institutions worldwide in 2010 totals about $21 million, up considerably from the previous year,” says Carlon.
The company’s globalization initiative already has begun to pay off, with foreign sales accounting for more than half of the company’s new aircraft sales by dollar and unit volume for the first time in Piper’s history, says Carlon. “Piper streamlined its senior leadership team and added strong talent in a number of important functional areas, including sales, marketing, customer support, engineering and operations,” she adds.
In July, Piper announced it was assembling a global distributor network for the Piper Sport light-sport aircraft. “PiperSport Distribution consists of more than 10 distributors that are separate from the company’s existing dealer network, and cover more than half of the U.S., including highly populated regions, much of the European Union and large parts of the Australian continent,” says Carlon.
The manufacturer announced the all-new, single-engine PiperJet Altaire in October at the National Business Aviation Association convention and has added more than 140 engineers to the business jet’s development team.
The Altaire is getting a much larger, round fuselage design that gives customers an even more spacious cabin to complement already efficient acquisition and operating costs, says Carlon.
“The Altaire É incorporates a scalable design, paving the way for a future family of competitive business jets,” she says. “The new airplane is undergoing CAD modeling and analysis in the program’s detail-design phase, [and] the first of four conforming PiperJet Altaire flight-test aircraft will begin flying in 2012.”
Certification and first customer deliveries are now planned for 2014, slightly after the previously scheduled 2013 date, says Carlon. “Our customers will accept their new delivery dates because they get a much improved and efficient aircraft with enviable performance,” she notes.