Piper Suspends Light
Jet Development And Makes Personnel Cuts
By Eddy Metcalf
October 25, 2011 - Piper Aircraft is indefinitely
suspending further development of the Piper Altaire
business jet following a review to align the company’s
business goals with the light jet market outlook,
investment strategies and overall economic forecasts.
“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, preserving
intellectual property and progress to date,” said
Piper Interim President and CEO Simon Caldecott.
“Unfortunately and regrettably, this will have serious
consequences for many talented Piper employees and for
our Piper Altaire customers.”
said that while the Altaire program was on schedule, on budget,
and hitting aircraft performance targets, planned development
costs had risen above the point that were recoverable under
foreseeable light jet market projections. The company will not
release the budget for the Altaire development program or
expenditures to date. Piper will refund the deposits of Altaire
position holders or their deposits can be applied towards other
new Piper airplanes.
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,” Caldecott said.
going forward as a company, we will step up product improvements
for our turboprop and piston-powered product lines. As a result,
Piper will increase the number of personnel dedicated to our
sustaining engineering function,” he added. “In addition, the
company is initiating third-party engineering and manufacturing
services to preserve as much of our talent pool and as many jobs
Among the enterprise initiatives underway is Design by Piper. This third-party service provider will perform proprietary engineering and technical functions for other companies to take advantage of the high level and wide range of some of the talent that had been assigned to the Altaire development program.
Precision by Piper, another third-party service provider, will leverage
the company’s precision manufacturing expertise and recent upgrades to
its manufacturing capabilities which were completed in anticipation of
Altaire production. Utilizing the company’s vertically integrated
manufacturing model, Piper is also stepping up product improvements and
investments in existing lines of its business and training aircraft.
“Without a doubt this event will impact the company, but Piper employees
have demonstrated great resilience before to overcome such economic
obstacles and I am confident we will once more persevere over the
long-run.” Deliveries of Piper's piston and turboprop powered aircraft
have increased quarter over quarter and year over year as the company
continues to outperform the marketplace, meeting or exceeding internal
financial and delivery targets.
increased product improvements to the existing aircraft in production
and creation of these engineering and manufacturing enterprises will not
make up for the loss of many of our extremely talented colleagues that
have been brought in for the Altaire program. But we will make every
effort to preserve as many as possible,” Caldecott said.
“Unquestionably, we will be losing some of the best and most
professional talent in aviation to others in our industry and that is
our loss and their gain.”
Piper is preparing
a schedule of personnel reductions and will provide information to the
affected employees as soon as possible. The company will aggressively
work with aviation companies and other employers who are currently
seeking talent to place as many impacted Piper employees in other
positions as possible.
at Piper totals more than 850 individuals. As a result of the indefinite
suspension of the Altaire jet development program, the company will
progressively lay off approximately 150 employees as the program ramps
down. That will bring total
company employment to somewhat more than 700 individuals. In addition,
the company is quickly eliminating the positions of 55 contract
The Piper PiperJet Altaire was to be a single-engined very light jet (VLJ), designed for single-pilot operation. It was based on the PA-47 PiperJet prototype, the Altaire was to feature a slightly larger fuselage with a rounded cross-section, which would have included a conventional control yoke for flight control, as opposed to the original PiperJet's side-stick controller. The Piper Altaire was to be built in Vero Beach, Florida (USA) The first delivery of thee aircraft was scheduled for 2014.
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