By Ed Bierschenk
BY THE NUMBERS
Piper Aircraft Inc. saw new aircraft sales increase by 16 percent and revenue rise by more than 13 percent last year.
Employment: Approximately 750
New aircraft sales in 2012: 158, up 16.2 percent
New aircraft sales in 2011: 136
New aircraft revenues in 2012: $149 million, up $13.5 percent
New aircraft revenues in 2011: $131 million
VERO BEACH — Piper Aircraft Inc. saw its income and sales grow last year as it slowly recovers from an economic downturn that put sales in a nosedive four years ago.
Annual revenue from new aircraft sales of nearly $149 million were up more than 13 percent from 2011 revenue numbers of about $131.3 million. Aircraft deliveries rose 16 percent from 136 in 2011 to 158 in 2012.
Piper is releasing its annual sales and revenue numbers on Monday for 2012. The company employs about 750 people at its Vero Beach headquarters. Piper officials expect employment to remain relatively stable this year.
Aircraft deliveries stayed fairly stable throughout the year in line with Piper President and Chief Executive Officer Simon Caldecott’s objective to level-load production, which basically means trying to balance productions levels throughout the year.
“We stabilized the manufacturing and delivery of new aircraft throughout the year as our initiative to level-load factory production continued to meet with success,” said Caldecott in the report issued by the company. “At the same time, our overall aircraft deliveries rose faster than the rest of the industry. The company has also met internal financial forecasts and continued long-range product plans for the future.”
Fourth-quarter revenue from the sale of 42 aircraft was about $42 million, up more than 8 percent from about $38.7 million the previous year. Although Caldecott has said the company will be focusing on the trainer aircraft market, the company in 2012 still managed to sell 11 more of its higher priced M-class planes, the Mirage, Matrix and Meridian, than it did the prior year.
Piper spokeswoman Jackie Carlon attributed the sales growth in the higher-end planes to an expansion of the company’s dealer network around the world as well as improvements made to the planes to better differentiate them from the older models.
The 2012 M-class planes had brighter lighting, improved sound and electrical service, better air distribution and other enhanced features, according to Piper.
In December, Caldcott said he expected to see some growth this year, but more in the smaller planes used for trainers than the larger planes. The company hopes to enter into more arrangements with flight schools like the one it entered into last year with the Florida Institute of Technology’s College of Aeronautics in Melbourne.
Last year, Piper delivered 10 Piper Seminole training aircraft to Airline Transport Professionals, which has flight schools across the country, and completed delivery of a number of Piper Warrior training aircraft to Sekolah Tinggi Penerbangan Indonesia, the government flight school at Budiarto Airport in Curug, Indonesia.
The company has been expanding its global dealer network and about 50 percent of its sales are to customers outside the U.S. The company has appointed new dealers in the Netherlands, Chile, India, Central America, Korea, Turkey and China, according to the report.
Piper, like the rest of the general aviation industry, saw sales and revenue drop dramatically in 2009 with the worldwide economic downturn. The company went from shipping 268 aircraft in 2008 to only 90 in 2009 as revenues fell to $86 million, less than what the company did in first six months alone in 2008.