Piper Aircraft has decided to pursue a mid-2013 service-entry date for its first jet.
The single-engined six-seat PiperJet had been scheduled to be certificated and to enter service at the end of 2011. But Piper pushed back service entry following its first flight in July 2008 as it slowed development efforts due to the sluggish economy and cash constraints.
Piper was able to reaccelerate the programme this summer after it was acquired by Brunei-based investment firm Imprimis. At the time it said the original service-entry date was no longer feasible and it would reassess the programme and inform customers of a revised schedule by the end of October.
Piper says is has now completed the reassessment and determined that a mid-2013 service-entry date is realistic given the current economic environment and the resources it now has committed to the programme.
Piper says it is in the process of hiring 50 additional engineers for the PiperJet. The increase in headcount, which will give the programme 70 engineers, was made possible by a new tranche of funds being provided by Imprimis.
© Piper Aircraft
"They hit the ground running and had immediate resources to put into the PiperJet," Piper says. "But we had to cut back [last year] and we lost some time as a result."
The proof-of-concept aircraft has racked up over 230h and 160 flights as development work on the conforming aircraft begins. Piper says all the high speed testing has been concluded, confirming the 360kt (665km/h) maximum speed. The aircraft is undergoing low-speed testing including stalls. Piper has secured more than 200 orders, including business from its dealer network.
Piper also announced at the end of October a second avionics option for its PA46 line. The manufacturer will offer the new Avidyne Entegra Release 9 integrated flightdeck system in addition to the Garmin G1000. The Entegra Release 9 is expected to be certificated on the PA46 Matrix late next year and on the Mirage and Meridian in 2011.
Earlier in October Piper revealed it was planning to increase production of its piston and turbine line by 50%. Piper says it plans to deliver 98 aircraft this year, compared with 268 aircraft in 2008.
Piper says the production increase is driven partly by an expected increase in PA28 sales in Asia, where it sees increasing demand from flying clubs and flight schools. Imprimis is helping Piper with a new sales push in Asia, where it plans to open a new regional office and pilot academy.