Piper Offers G1000 For Meridian, Update On Jet Progress

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Piper on Tuesday introduced its new Garmin G1000 avionics option for the six-seat Meridian turboprop to the Sun ‘n Fun crowd, saying that the system is certified and ready to go as a $50,000 upgrade on the $2.1 million airplane. The three-screen system features a 15-inch multi-function display in the center with two 10-inch primary flight displays on either side. The option also includes Garmin’s synthetic vision technology. “The G1000 gives the Meridian a new brain, taking the airplane to a whole new level of performance,” said Bob Kromer, VP of sales and marketing. The new panel gives the Meridian the “look and feel of a larger, business-class aircraft,” he said.

Piper CEO Jim Bass said the Piper Jet project is making significant progress and the company remains committed to seeing it through to certification. A new pressurization system has been tested and verified for high-altitude performance up to 35,000 feet, he said. Over the next few months, the test pilots will be working through the flight envelope and then will start stall testing. Bass also spent some time talking about the current challenges faced by the aviation industry, both economic and political. The economic pressures right now are like none he has seen in his 30 years’ experience, he said, and “gut-wrenching” decisions have had to be made, including layoffs. Last year Piper was selling about six or seven airplanes a week, and this year it’s closer to two or three. He said that recently he is seeing more traffic in the showroom and on the Web site and while he’s hopeful for the future and confident that Piper remains a sound company, he is concerned about other issues. “The government assault on GA is more of a threat to our industry than the economy,” he said. “Everyone in GA is demonized. It’s a culture war, us against them, where everyone who owns aircraft is considered the enemy.” Besides the recent problems with GA’s tarnished image, he said, change is needed in laws affecting litigation, regulation and taxation that make it harder than it should be for aviation manufacturers to succeed.

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