Piper Aircraft, Inc. is the only aircraft manufacturer to offer a complete line of models, providing the opportunity for customers to step up through the product line as their individual experience and expertise increase. Similarity in cockpit layout and handling characteristics ensure smooth transitions through the product line.
This month, Piper has announced new milestones in its rollout of the much-anticipated PiperJet Altair, a single engine business jet which promises the “economics of a turboprop with the cabin size and capabilities of a much larger business jet”, according to the company. The Altair is expected to operate at an astonishing average of 25% less per hour than comparable production very light jets (VLJ).
With enough advance orders to ensure production for the next several years, Piper has committed $5.6 million to upgrade its Vero Beach, Florida production line and has supplemented its 800-plus workforce with an additional 200 engineers and specialists to build the first test aircraft, scheduled to fly sometime next year. A touring mock-up of the Altaire debuted at the EAA Oshkosh exhibition this year, and has appeared on the covers of numerous aviation publications. The company plans to begin deliveries of the jet in 2014.
Considered to be a lead contender in the race to dominate the single-engine business jet market, the Altaire features the Garmin G3000 integrated touch-screen avionics suite, a fully digital flight control system, and the fuel-efficient Williams FJ44-3AP engine that gives the sleek design a functional range of 1200 nautical miles at a maximum cruise speed of 414 mph.
Additional Altaire specs:
• Number of seats - 6 (7th seat optional)
• Maximum approved altitude - 35,000 ft (10,668 m)
• Engine - Williams International FJ44-3AP Turbofan, 2,500 lbs static thrust
• Wing span - 44.5 ft (13.5 m)
• Length - 37.6 ft (11.4 m)
• Cabin length - 17.8 ft (5.4 m)
• Height - 15.7 ft (4.8 m)
• Standard equipped list price - $2,500,000 (approximate)
Piper recently named 30-year aerospace veteran Michael Dow as Chief of Production, to oversee manufacturing. Aside from some avionics components and the engine, the Altaire will be fabricated entirely at the Vero Beach facility, giving the production team complete oversight over the process.