PiperJet flies!

oshkosh-header.jpgOSHKOSH — Piper Aircraft announced today that its PiperJet – the first pure, jet-powered, turbofan design in the company’s 71-year history – made its first flight at 11:11 AM today from Piper Headquarters in Vero Beach, Fla.
Complete release after the jump.

“Today marks the beginning of a new era for Piper Aircraft as the company literally takes flight into a whole new realm of performance, luxury and capability,” said Piper President & CEO James K. Bass. “With this major milestone in the PiperJet’s development, we are witnessing our future – one that is built on a strong and lasting heritage and reputation for innovation and excellence.”

The PiperJet flew for one hour, reaching a maximum altitude of 10,000 feet and a speed of 160 KTAS as per the flight test plan.  Piper Test Pilots Dave Schwartz and Buddy Sessoms were at the controls.

The PiperJet incorporates many new design features, and the first flight was focused on taking an early look at basic handling characteristics, the effects on pitch trim with power changes, and basic operation of the engine’s FADEC control system.

“The PiperJet exhibited excellent control response around all three axes,” said Schwartz. “The ergonomics and the basic operation of the side stick control were excellent, with well-balanced and harmonized control inputs required for the air speeds that we tested. Moreover, the expected level of pitch trim change with power applications was minimal and easy to overcome.”

The PiperJet is powered by a single Williams FJ44-3AP engine rated at 3,000 pounds of thrust.  In the PiperJet application, the engine is de-rated to approximately 2,400 pounds of thrust.

“The FADEC control on the Williams engine greatly reduces pilot workload, allowing greater focus on controlling and navigating the PiperJet,” said Schwartz.  “Pushing the single power level full forward for takeoff results in a smooth but rapid buildup of thrust and acceleration.”  

Another confirmation from the first flight was the lack of cabin noise inside the PiperJet – one of the many positive attributes resulting from designing the engine installation well aft in the vertical tail, behind the pressure bulkhead.  “The resulting lack of cabin noise was even better than expected,” said Test Pilot Sessoms.  “Even without sound insulation or an interior, the cabin was exceptionally quiet.  It will be even quieter in the completed airplane.  In all, our customers should be very pleased with the quiet cabin and lack of engine vibration.”

With completion of first flight, the PiperJet has begun a 50 hour initial flight test program to expand the envelope and further investigate the aerodynamic configuration and basic flight performance. Piper test pilots expect to retract the landing gear on the PiperJet’s next flight, after which they will make several more flights to expand the high-speed envelope, eventually reaching 360 KTAS. Envelope expansion will also include higher operating altitudes, up to a maximum of 35,000 feet.

Piper plans a public unveiling of the PiperJet for existing and prospective customers and the news and aviation media in late August or early September at the Piper factory in Vero Beach, Fla., during which Piper test pilots will demonstrate the PiperJet’s full flight capabilities. Details of this event will be forthcoming.

The six passenger PiperJet – with an option for either a seventh seat or enclosable lavatory – offers a mission-capable profile and sensuous luxury that sets the standard in its class, with a range of 1,300 nautical miles* and a full-fuel payload of 800 lbs.*

Built using state-of-the-art design and manufacturing processes, the PiperJet will feature the latest in integrated glass avionics, a luxurious interior and advanced manufacturing techniques pioneered by Piper.  Priced from $2.199M (in 2006 USD with a CPI-W escalator), the PiperJet will provide unbeatable value while delivering Piper’s legendary uncompromising standards.

“The PiperJet will be certified in the Normal Category under FAA Part 23 and applicable foreign certification standards,” said John Becker, Piper’s Vice President of Engineering.  “It’s designed to be flown by a single pilot and will be RVSM Certified.  Moreover, its innovative design includes ample baggage space and class-setting useful load.  The PiperJet will be certified to a maximum operating altitude of 35,000 feet, well above the weather while combining performance with the latest safety technologies and features.”

With deliveries anticipated to begin in 2011, the PiperJet will provide the final word in comfort and luxury.  Focusing on the latest in ergonomic automobile design, the PiperJet will provide passengers with an interior that synthesizes a sophisticated color palette with a spacious, energetic design. A wealth of features, from rich leather seats, deep zebra wood details and rich fabrics and trim to perfectly placed storage, cup holders and docking stations for personal electronics, the PiperJet is equally attentive to pilot and passenger comfort and needs, reduced workload and ease of operation.

Piper has selected Garmin International, Inc. to provide the state-of-the art avionics suite for the PiperJet, with navigation, situational awareness and system information delivered through state-of-the art technologies. From Flight Into Known Icing (FIKI) to FADEC, the PiperJet’s focus is on optimal operational excellence, user-friendliness, and safety.

The PiperJet also incorporates major innovations that speak directly to performance and value for money.  They include a high-speed, natural laminar flow (NLF) wing that enhances fuel economy and performance and advanced metal bonding for improved strength and manufacturing integrity.  

Piper Aircraft, Inc. is headquartered in Vero Beach, Fla.  Piper’s rich legacy is born of 71 years of unparalleled history, with hundreds of thousands of aircraft brought to market and more than 160 models certified.  Approximately 90,000 of those aircraft are still flying and being serviced and supported on every continent by Piper’s 65 service centers, 40 dealers and 2,500 field personnel.  Today, Piper is the only general aviation manufacturer to build and offer aircraft for every general aviation mission, from trainers and high-performance aircraft for personal and business use, to turbine-powered business aircraft and the PiperJet.

One Response to PiperJet flies!

  1. Roman July 30, 2008 at 3:40 pm #

    Is it just me or does the PiperJet look like someone took a bunch of piper parts, threw in a jet engine, sneezed them onto a fuselage, and added a couple of winglets? This has got to be the least pleasant-looking VLJ of them all. Then again – while Piper airplanes were never known for their slick looks, it’s always been nice knowing that you can fill them full of fuel, passengers, throw in a brick outhouse in the baggage compartment and still get off the ground in a reasonable distance.