Piper Reports Progress On Jet, Shows Mockup

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Piper brought a mock-up of its Altaire single-engine jet to Sun 'n Fun this week, and reported that the program is on track for first flight of the conforming prototype in 2012. "We now have 175 engineers at work on it, and production parts are being cut for the first four conforming test articles," said company spokesman Randy Groom. The jet, powered by a Williams FJ44-3AP turbofan, features a roomy cabin with club seating for four plus two up front. Performance targets aim for cruise speed up to 360 knots and a 1,300-nm range. "We are completing our new production facility for 2012," Groom said, "and adding new dealers around the globe."

Groom also announced that every Piper Archer sold will come with a free flight-training package to bring new buyers from zero time to private pilot. The training will take place in Florida, and Groom said he expects students to complete their certificate in about three weeks of full-time study and flying. The program is called Ready, Set, Fly. Piper plans to partner with a local flight-training provider in Vero Beach to provide the training, Groom said, but those details have not yet been worked out. Buyers who already have a private pilot certificate would be allotted $10,000 to spend on advanced training, he said.

AVweb's Mary Grady spoke with Piper spokesperson Jacqueline Carlon for all the details on the jet project; click here for the podcast.