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Piper officials say the first engine start of their proof-of-concept PiperJet very light jet is "imminent" and it'll be flying by no later than this fall. In a podcast interview with AVweb on Friday, VP of Sales Bob Kromer said the first aircraft's airframe has been through all the static testing required before first flight and easily handled the +3.8g and -1.5g loads that will be the aircraft's normal design limits. Kromer, a former engineering test pilot, said development of the proof-of-concept aircraft went smoothly and the jet is now out of the jigs, sitting on its gear with all systems ready.
Since Piper announced the project two years ago, Kromer said they've taken 203 firm orders and there are numerous prospective customers. "They're just waiting for that first flight," he said. More than 1,000 employees at Vero Beach, which was recently confirmed as the continuing home of the company, are also on pins and needles. The PiperJet has a tail-mounted engine that the company says will improve overall efficiency. The aircraft is expected to have a cruise speed of about 360 KTAS with a ceiling of 35,000 feet and a range of 1,300 nm.