Piper Lands Its Biggest Trainer Order Ever

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Piper Aircraft accepted an order for 152 airplanes this week from a flight school in China, the largest single trainer order ever for the company. “This is a wonderful opportunity for both organizations as we work collectively to help address the global pilot shortage,” said Piper CEO Simon Caldecott. The seven-year, $74 million order came from Fanmei Aviation Technologies, a subsidiary of Sichuan Fanmei Education Group, a leading provider of aviation education in China. "The agreement and cooperation with Piper Aircraft is the key element for our general aviation roadmap," said Don Li, president of Fanmei. The announcement was made at the Singapore Air Show.

The flight school will take delivery of 100 Archer TX single-engine trainers, 50 Seminole twins, one Seneca twin and one Piper M350, a pressurized piston single. Deliveries will begin next month. Piper CEO Simon Caldecott told CNBC that demand for pilots is growing in Asia. "One of the things I've been looking at, and constantly monitoring, is the global shortage of new pilots," Caldecott said. CNBC added that Boeing’s analysis from 2017 predicts the Asia-Pacific region will need 253,000 new pilots by 2036, about 40 percent of the global demand.

Comments (8)

Turn out the lights the party's over. USA used to be the international aviation powerhouse in training but this .......

Posted by: MICHAEL MUETZEL | February 7, 2018 6:30 PM    Report this comment

Not to worry, Michael. I have it on good authority that we have nothing to fear from a global economy OR the Chinese gobbling up our aviation industries. OH ... wait ... the Government of Brunei owns Piper and the Chinese are now buying a bunch of airplanes from them to train in China. Never mind. Well, at least a few people are bucking rivets in Vero Beach. Does that count?

Well ... the Chinese students could study at the Commercial Airline Pilot Training (CAPT) facility originally built for ERAU with tax incentives from Flagler County at the Flagler airport (KFIN) in Palm Coast specifically for them. Wait ... CAPT was sold in 2006 Flight Training Services Int'l and then failed in 2009. I wonder if my county got paid back for that consideration ?? No wonder they're taking those Cherokees to China.

Well ... at least the Chinese can learn how to fly and start crewing OUR airliners in a few years. Our aircrew shortages will be solved. I knew there was good news somewhere here ...

Posted by: Larry Stencel | February 7, 2018 8:54 PM    Report this comment

Larry, what is it you want?

If foreigners buy airplanes from Piper, you complain that the students aren't training here. And you complain that the students will then "take American jobs". Maybe I'm misunderstanding you, but if the students did come to train here, would you then also complain they were immigrants, coming to take American jobs?

If foreigners invest in Piper, you complain that they're "gobbling up our aviation industries". But if they invested in their own, would you complain that they were competing unfairly?

Because what I see here is an American-made company, American-designed and American-manufactured products, being successful on world markets (i.e., other people want to buy them).

That seems like something to celebrate.

Posted by: Thomas Boyle | February 8, 2018 6:37 AM    Report this comment

Michael, you're right. But combine TSA training regs and anti-immigrant sentiment (in the United States, which has one of the lowest immigration rates in the developed world), and maybe it's no surprise people aren't coming here anymore.

Posted by: Thomas Boyle | February 8, 2018 6:39 AM    Report this comment

Thomas, I usually 'speak' tongue-in-cheek and sarcastically to accentuate my points; it gets people's attention. Sounds like complaining but -- truly -- is actually commiserating. There are no answers at this point ... other than to celebrate the sale of a small number of airplanes. Just like when a certain alphabet aviation association celebrates pilot accessions ... one at a time. Nutty.

My top level point was that things within GA are now SO convoluted that we're down to celebrating a foreign owned Company selling airplanes for training in another foreign country and all we have left are the people making a salary bucking rivets to build them. Once they get all the technology and THEIR production lines up, they'll thumb their noses at us.

Thanks to a bevy of hackneyed reasons, what was once a vibrant industry within the US has now fallen to the point where we think we're doing good when we sell 152 airplanes ... likely at a large discount? We've beaten that horse to death many times here; it just sometimes rubs me wrong when I see articles celebrating such sales as "Happy Times are Here Again." For Vero Beach, it is. But Michael got it right ... the party is over. What once was is never coming back. Keeping Piper's doors open is good for folks who own one or work there ... short term. Nothing more.

With respect to "them" coming over here to train, I gave up flying in Florida after the third VERY close call with hoardes of people who are unable to speak reasonable English ... you know, the language of aviation. So I'm glad they're going to do it 'over there.' At my nearby airport, two major facilities were built for entities, major tax incentives were granted and now all we taxpayers have left are some underutilized empty hangars. We're chasing our tails around in a circle thinking we're gaining ground on it all. We're not.

Just a couple of days ago I commented about Boeing ... and took the side of Airbus/Bombardier. That said, Piper is no more "American" anymore than Airbus / Bombardier will be in Mobile. It's just like when you see those infomercials with a former Navy fighter pilot now hawking "tactical" flashlights with the name Bell & Howell on them. A half-full or half-empty glass is ... well ... not full and talking about it isn't gonna make it so.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | February 8, 2018 10:48 AM    Report this comment

Larry - new Cubs will soon be built in Wa State.. by the Chinese! Can you think of a more iconic American airplane than the Cub?

Our "business leaders" have been selling their own country and it's people down the river for many decades now and the result of their greed makes my stomach turn. I do wish I was born 30 years sooner.

Posted by: Ken Keen | February 8, 2018 2:06 PM    Report this comment

Piper Aircraft owned by the Sultan of Brunei building airplanes in the US for export to China. A Cub clone company building Cubs in WA solely for export to China. Next thing ya know, we'll be exporting hamburger flippers over there because our labor costs will be lower on that, too. Our inflated dollars are largely to blame. Bill Piper is likely looking down on all this and crying?

And an American company that was going to build LSA's for the American market in China but failed. This world economy stuff is for the birds, I say.

China is now on it's 13th five year national plan with its sights on GA. Does anyone here know what five year plan the U.S. is on? See:
heraldnet.com/business/chinese-firm-breaks-ground-on-arlington-plane-building-plant/

Posted by: Larry Stencel | February 8, 2018 6:39 PM    Report this comment

Larry, I'm sorry, but it does sound as if the involvement of foreigners, in any manner at all, upsets you. If they buy the product and use it at home, they're killing our training industry. If they use it here, they're threatening the airspace over Florida. If they buy the company, then the company isn't American anymore, and they're just thumbing their noses at us as they set up production lines elsewhere (because their labor costs are lower?). If they use the production lines here, they're just paying someone to buck rivets because our labor costs are cheaper than theirs, and besides they're getting the airplanes at a discount (at half a million dollars each, maybe eight times the inflation-adjusted price these planes used to sell at). If the company is foreign to begin with, but sets up a production line here, it's not really an American company (so the jobs don't count, and the airplanes built here aren't "American" - what are they, French?)

You're right: the little airplane industry is small, and it's likely it will never again be as big as it was in its heyday. None of us likes that. Those of us who love small airplanes, are hoping they industry won't actually disappear entirely. If foreign customers and foreign investors can help with that, it's a good thing. They're not taking anything from us. What would you do - prohibit foreign buyers of little airplanes? Prohibit foreign investors in US companies? Prohibit foreign-owned airplane factories in the US?

Posted by: Thomas Boyle | February 9, 2018 7:16 AM    Report this comment

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