Piper Aircraft is planning for a 40-percent decline in production for 2009 and should not have to lay off any more workers if the estimate is accurate. According to TCPalm, Piper CEO Jim Bass told the Indian River County Commission that 150 employees have been laid off and others have had their hours cut to balance production and demand. "There simply is no need to build planes and have them stacked up on a runway and sit around and rust," Bass told the meeting. "We hope it will be better but we also recognize in today's environment it's very hard to forecast with really good accuracy and it could get worse. If it stayed at the 40 percent level, we won't have to make any more changes to our workforce. No more layoffs."
The commission and the state offered Piper a total of $32 million in incentives to keep the planemaker in Vero Beach but they're based on the company's maintaining minimum employment levels. Late last year, it received a total of $10.7 million as a first installment after an audit showed that the minimum staffing was maintained. On Dec. 24, the company said it would be deferring the next installment and Bass said it's unclear when it might be in a position to claim it. "While we're not sure about how the economy will turn out, we may delay the second payment until the economy improves," Bass said. "We think that this is both good for Piper as well as Florida and the county because ultimately it extends Piper commitment."