PiperJet: Not Quite a Honda but More than a Piper

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The PiperJet might have been Piper Aircraftís worst-kept secret, but the company did manage to keep what the single-engine jet looked like under tight wraps. The perimeter of Piperís NBAA booth was draped from floor to ceiling until yesterday morningís unveiling, with very dedicated employees posted guard to prevent any sneak peaks. When the curtain finally fell, a small, six-passenger jet with winglets and a tail-mounted turbofan engine emerged into view. Piper president and CEO James Bass touted the virtues of the $2.199 million PiperJet: 360-knot cruise speed, 35,000-foot ceiling, 1,300-nm NBAA IFR range and 2,500-foot takeoff distance. The VLJ has a wide 36-inch door, but with its 800-pound payload donít expect to carry four passengers and everything but the kitchen sink, unless the sink is made of carbon fiber that is.

Bass said the all-aluminum jet will have a glass cockpit, though Piper wonít decide on an avionics system until it gets closer to the projected 2010 certification date. No engine has yet been selected for the PiperJet, though Bass said powerplants from Williams, Pratt & Whitney Canada and GE-Honda are in the running. Piper expects to have the PiperJet flying in early 2008.