PiperJet Now Bigger And Better-Looking

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Piper went back to the drawing board with its single-engine PiperJet and the result is the Altaire. The new aircraft differs substantially from the proof-of-concept PiperJet and includes a redesigned fuselage that is substantially larger than the stretched Meridian body that served the original. The tail-mounted engine stays but the longer nacelle and reworked tail give the aircraft a sleeker appearance. Company Executive Vice President Randy Groom said the new aircraft is aimed at both the business and owner-pilot market and suggested larger versions of the aircraft are possible in the future. He declined to say whether future designs will have more engines.

Groom said the company learned a lot from the proof-of-concept aircraft and there will be some direct transfers, such as the Garmin G3000 flight deck. However, a traditional dual yoke replaces the sidestick controllers that were in the prototype. Groom also expects the 160 position holders on the old design to transfer their commitment to the new design. The new plane will be ready for customers in 2014 and, in the meantime, the $75,000 deposit can be used to reduce the price of a Meridian the future jet pilots can use to get comfortable in the turbine environment. The Altaire will be priced at $2.5 million.