Piper Mothballs Jet Project
Piper Aircraft announced on Monday it is "indefinitely suspending" further work on its Altaire single-engine business jet and will cut more than 200 jobs at its plant in Vero Beach, Fla. The news was not unexpected, coming just a week after the company appointed a new interim CEO and said it would "review" the program. Piper's news release on Monday said planned development costs had "risen above the point that were recoverable under foreseeable light-jet market projections." The deposits of Altaire position holders will be refunded, the company said.
"Clearly, the market for light jets is not recovering sufficiently and quickly enough to allow us to continue developing the program under the economic circumstances we face," said Simon Caldecott, Piper's interim CEO. "Following an evaluation of Altaire development and light-jet forecasts, we determined the best course of action for the company going forward is to indefinitely suspend the program …. Unfortunately and regrettably, this will have serious consequences for many talented Piper employees and for our Piper Altaire customers." The company will immediately let go 55 contract workers, mostly engineers, and eliminate 150 jobs as the program winds down. Just last month, Piper held a job fair in Wichita, Kans., to recruit 20 new engineers to work on the Altaire. The prototype, a redesign of the earlier PiperJet, had been scheduled to fly for the first time next year. It was priced at $2.6 million. AVweb's editor-in-chief Russ Niles predicted the jet's demise last week; click here for his blog and the ensuing discussion.