Piper Avoids Overall Piston Downturn

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Although piston aircraft deliveries for the first half of this year are down 16 percent overall, as the General Aviation Manufacturers Association reported last week, not all companies have seen declining numbers. Piper Aircraft increased its piston sales by 18 percent, driven largely by sales of its Piper Matrix, an unpressurized version of the Malibu Mirage. By July 1, Piper had delivered 48 copies of the Matrix, accounting for more than half of Piper's deliveries. "We have orders for 101 Matrix models this year," said Piper CEO James Bass. "The Piper Matrix fills a niche in the market that hasn't been truly addressed until now. To date, our entire first year of production is sold out and market demand continues to be very strong."

Bass also said the company's performance this year shows that it has recovered from the three hurricanes that struck the Vero Beach, Fla., site in 2004. "We are not only fully recovered from the hurricanes, our headquarters is in the midst of major renovation and modernization," he said. The restored buildings are strong enough to withstand any potential storms or hurricanes in the future, he said. The company is also developing a single-engine jet, which flew for the first time on July 30.