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Piper Jet Aircraft

  1. Piper Aircraft

    One of the top three manufacturers’ in civilian aviation is Piper Aircraft, located in Vero Beach, Florida. Piper has long been a leader in the field of general aviation, along with Beechcraft and Cessna. Founded in 1927, Piper has produced over 145,000 aircraft, of which 90,000 are still flying today. Originally founded by brothers Clarence and Gordan Taylor in Rochester, New York, the company became Taylor Brothers Aircraft Corporation in April 1928 shortly before Gordon Taylor’s death in a plane crash on April 24, 1928. With the promise of larger facility and investment capital from local businessmen, the aviation company was moved to Bradford, Pennsylvania in September 1929. One of those businessmen was a local oilman named William T. Piper.

    In 1930, William Piper purchased the assets of the company when it filed for bankruptcy, retaining Clarence Taylor as the president. In the midst of the great depression, William Piper persevered with the idea that private airplanes would one day take-off. In 1935, William Piper bought out Clarence Taylor, who later started Taylorcraft Aircraft Company. In 1937 a fire destroyed the Bradford factory and manufacturing was moved to Lock Haven, Pennsylvania and renamed Piper Aircraft Corporation.

    Following World War II, Piper outgrew the Pennsylvania facility and in 1955, moved design and production of the Piper Cherokee to the Vero Beach Municipal Airport. In 1969, Piper Aircraft was sold to Bangor Punta Corporation, which resulted in nearly a decade of litigation. Piper’s Lock Haven facility was nearly ruined in 1972 due to Hurricane Agnes, destroying much of the infrastructure needed for production. This included tooling and plans for the Piper Aztec, the Piper Navajo, the Piper Comanche and the Piper Twin Comanche. Due to slow sales, Piper brought production of the Comanche series to an end, relocating tooling and dies of the remaining Piper aircraft models to Florida, thus closing the Pennsylvania operations. In 1972, Piper began manufacturing the Piper Navajo, Piper Chieftain, and the Piper Cheyenne at a facility located on the Lakeland Florida municipal airport.

    Due to rising insurance costs in the 1980’s, manufacturing of light aircraft in the US was becoming an increasingly difficult environment, as liability and insurance premiums financially strained the aviation industry. To keep wind under their wings, Piper opened an airline division to produce commuter aircraft for regional airlines. In the early 90’s, legislation was passed that limited liability for airplane manufacturers, allowing new designs in general aviation to become economically viable.

    In 2003, American Capital Strategies bought the majority of Piper's voting equity, but in 2009, sold Piper Aircraft to Singapore-based Imprimis. In 2006, Piper announced a competitor to the twin-engine Eclipse Jet 500 and Cessna Citation Jet Mustang; the PiperJet. The aircraft's fuselage was the same cross section as the prop-driven Piper PA-46 series, but longer. It was projected to carry 7 passengers and cruise at 360 knots at a maximum altitude of 35,000 feet. Range was expected to be 1,300 nautical miles with a payload of 800 pounds. Power was to be provided by a Williams International turbofan engine. Piper brought on 140 employees for the PiperJet program, renovating a 75,000 sq. ft. factory in Vero Beach to build the PiperJet.

    One of the PiperJet’s design attributes was a "straight duct jet intake" incorporated into the base of the vertical fin, much like the McDonnell Douglas DC-10. This provided a direct, uninterrupted flow of air directly to the turbofan, as opposed to ducting air into the fuselage to feed an engine. The PiperJet’s tail mounted engine proved to be destabilizing as power was added, causing the nose to push down. Not alarming, but it could be concerning to new pilots, so Piper designed an automatic pitch trim system to counteract the engine’s high thrust line. The system was later replaced by a vectored thrust nozzle developed by Williams International that not only reduced weight, but simplified manufacturing.

    The PiperJet had a projected sales price of $2.2 million and initial deliveries were scheduled for 2010. By early 2007, Piper had orders for 180 PiperJets, but by 2009 Piper had delayed the delivery of the first PiperJet and postponed delivery of subsequent PiperJets to mid-2013. The PiperJet never entered production and in October 2010, Piper announced they were developing a jet aircraft with a larger fuselage to be called the Piper Altaire. Based on the PA-47 PiperJet prototype, the Altaire featured a slightly larger fuselage and included a standard airplane control yoke, as opposed to the original PiperJet's side-stick for flight control. Piper built four Altaire Jet prototypes for FAA certification with plans to deliver the first Altaire’s to depositing customers in 2014.

    The Altaire Jet had been designed for single-pilot operation allowing one passenger to occupy the co-pilot's seat. With 4 passenger seats in the cabin, the jet would typically have seated 5 passengers. The cabin could have been configured to add an additional seat for a total of 6 passengers. There was approx. 20 cubic feet of baggage space behind the passenger seats and another 20 cu. ft. of unpressurized space in the nose of this jet aircraft.

    The fuselage of the original Piperjet was designed using the Piper Meridian turboprop as a basis, but the parent company wanted a scalable design that could cross-platform to a family of business jets. The new Altaire Jet fuselage design provided additional headroom and interior space over the original PiperJet design; important in the corporate and business jet industry because high cruise speeds coupled with low comfort equals slow sales.

    In October 2011, Piper announced that the PiperJet Altaire program was cancelled, citing "light-jet market trends and overall economic weakness in the aviation sector”. Piper stated it was unrealistic to pursue the jet design in the face of FAA opposition to certifying a single engine jet aircraft to 35,000 ft., plus the lack of economic reasoning for a single engine jet costing about the same as most twin-engine jets. On October 24th, 2011, the Altaire program was indefinitely suspended by Piper due to economic issues with the company laying off a number of employees that were hired specifically for the PiperJet / Altaire Jet development and manufacturing program.

    Piper boasts more than 700,000 square feet of operations space, with a comprehensive array of manufacturing capabilities. With over 70 years of manufacturing, Piper has extensive experience building a variety of light airplanes.

  2. PiperJet Aircraft​
  3. Piper PiperJet​
  4. PiperJet Altaire​
  5. PiperJet Altaire Aircraft​
  6. Piper Meridian Airplane​
  7. Piper Meridian Turboprop Airplane​

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