Aircraft Manufacturer
Piper Aircraft Inc.
1981 Piper PA-28-236 Dakota - N8293X
1981 Piper PA-28-236 Dakota - N8293X (sn 28-8111022)
Jet A Fuel Powered Piper Dakota with a
SMA, SAFRAN Group built Diesel Engine.
Photo taken Oct. 31, 2011
Chico Municipal Airport, CA - USA (CIC / KCIC)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler

Piper Aircraft logoPiper Aircraft, Inc., is a manufacturer of general aviation aircraft, located at the Vero Beach Municipal Airport in Vero Beach, Florida. Along with Beechcraft and Cessna, it is considered one of the "Big Three" in the field of general aviation construction.

Between its founding in 1927 and the end of 2009, the company has produced 144,000 aircraft in 160 certified models, of which 90,000 are still flying.

History

PIperJet VLJ / Piper Jet Mockup - Very Light Jet - VLJ
Piper Jet Mockup
Piper's newly introduced VLJ (Very Light Jet) a single engine turbofan will be capable of reaching speeds of 360 knots and altitudes of about 35,000 feet.
Photo taken at Sun 'n Fun April 2007
Lakeland, FL USA (KLAL)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler
Piper PA-22-108 Tri Pacer - N5000Z
1961 Piper PA-22-108 Tri Pacer - N5000Z
Image taken at Arlington Northwest EAA Fly-In 2007
Arlington, WA USA (KAWO)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler
Piper PA-46 Malibu - N42BD
1988 Piper PA-46-310P Malibu - N42BD
Photograph taken at Sun 'n Fun 2007
Lakeland, FL USA (KLAL)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler
Piper PA-23-235 Apache - N4981P
1963 Piper PA-23-235 Apache - N4981P
Picture taken at Sun 'n Fun 2007
Lakeland, FL USA (KLAL)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler

The company was originally founded as the Taylor Brothers Aircraft Manufacturing Company in September 1927 by Clarence Gilbert Taylor and Gordon A. Taylor in Rochester, New York. The company was renamed Taylor Brothers Aircraft Corporation in April 1928, shortly before Gordon Taylor died in a plane crash on April 24, 1928. The company was enticed to move to Bradford, Pennsylvania, with the promise of larger facility and investment capital from local businessmen, including an initial investment of $400 from local oilman William T. Piper. The move was completed in September, 1929.

1930s

In late 1930, the company filed for bankruptcy and William T. Piper purchased the assets of the company for $761. Reorganized as the Taylor Aircraft Company, Piper effectively took control of the firm when he assumed the position of corporate secretary-treasurer, although he retained C. G. Taylor in the role of president. Piper, often called the "Henry Ford of Aviation", firmly believed a simple-to-operate, low-cost, private airplane would flourish, even in the darkest depths of the Great Depression.

In December 1935, after a series of clashes, William Piper bought out C. G. Taylor, who left the company and went on to form the Taylorcraft Aircraft Company. On March 16, 1937 a fire destroyed the Bradford factory and the company relocated to an abandoned silk mill in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania. By November 1937, it was renamed Piper Aircraft Corporation.

1940s

Piper continued operations in Lock Haven throughout World War II. In its business planning following the war, it became clear the Lock Haven facility would not support larger manufacturing efforts, and in 1955, it acquired rights to property at the Vero Beach Municipal Airport. Initially, this location was limited to the design and production of the Piper Cherokee series.

1960s

In 1969, The Piper family agreed to sell Piper Aircraft to Bangor Punta Corporation, which started an eight-year court battle with the losing bidder, Chris-Craft Industries, culminating in a Supreme Court decision in 1977. Piper remained a member of the Bangor Punta family through 1984, when B-P was acquired by Lear Siegler. Lear Siegler, in turn, was acquired by Forstmann Little in 1986. Forstmann Little then sold Piper to M. Stuart Millar in 1987. Piper filed for protection under the bankruptcy code in 1991 and was reorganized in 1994.

1970s

The Lock Haven facility was nearly destroyed in 1972 when torrential rains from Hurricane Agnes caused the great Susquehanna River flood of 1972. The manufacturing plant was flooded, destroying airframes, parts, and much of the tooling necessary for production of several designs; including the Aztec, Navajo, and Comanche. The company decided to end production of the Piper PA-24 Comanche and Piper PA-30 Twin Comanche, neither of which were selling particularly well (and were very expensive to produce), move the production of remaining models to Florida, and within five years close all operations in Pennsylvania. Piper opened a manufacturing division in Lakeland, Florida, in 1972. Through the 1970s, the Piper PA-31 Navajo, Chieftain, and Cheyenne III were manufactured at the more than 710,000 ft2 facility on the Lakeland municipal airport.

1980s

Piper opened its T1000 Airline Division at the Lakeland, Florida, location, May 1981, with 20 people. Employment at both of Piper's Lakeland divisions peaked at 2,200 later that year. The Piper PA-42 Cheyenne IV and the Piper T-1020/ Piper T-1040 aircraft were manufactured in Lakeland during this time. Piper also maintained a fully staffed R&D center in Lakeland, including "X" shop personnel. The Piper PA-48 Enforcer was their responsibility. The Airline Division provided aircraft to commuter airlines both in the US, Air New Orleans, Desert Sun in Long Beach, Shasta Air and Sun West Airlines in Phoenix, Arizona, as well as internationally to, Vickers for corporate transport use in the UK, to Cameroons Avia Services in Africa and to Columbia's Aero Leaver. Manufacture of light aircraft was impacted in the mid-1980s when increasing insurance premiums made operation financially difficult for Piper Aircraft and other American sellers of light aircraft. Production of the larger commuter aircraft continued through this period. Limitation of liability was provided by new legislation in the early '90s. Also, the firm was rebranded as The New Piper Aircraft at that time.

2000s

In July 2003, American Capital Strategies, Ltd. bought 94% of Piper's voting equity.

In August 2006, the firm dropped the "New" from its name, reverting to Piper Aircraft. Also in that month, a partnership with Honda was announced to market the new HondaJet.

In response to the late 2000s recession, the company announced in November 2008 that it was reducing its work-week to save money while avoiding lay-offs. Piper is party to an agreement with the state of Florida that will see the company benefit from US$32 million in incentives in exchange for increasing its work force to 1400 people and building the PiperJet in the state.

In December 2008, the company announced it will defer the US$10 million incentive that would have required it to hire 400 new workers by 2012 for the PiperJet project and retain 1,417 employees through 2015. The company stated the move was precautionary. Piper spokesman Mark Miller said: "While this year has been a good one for Piper, we have taken measures to keep the company healthy and to weather any future adversity."

In February 2009, the company announced it was laying off an additional 300 workers without notice immediately and the 650 remaining workers would be given unpaid weeks off in April and July to reduce unsold inventory. Piper spokesman Mark Miller stated company regretted the pain caused by the layoffs and indicated the employees would be rehired when the economy improves. He also said: "Even the willing buyers that we have find it incredibly difficult to get financing...We can't keep a full workforce on at this point when people aren't buying planes...If market conditions continue to deteriorate, it may be necessary for the company to take additional actions". On 24 February 2009, the company announced it would add two more weeks of unpaid furlough for its employees in May and June, bringing the total to four weeks in 2009, citing a need to reduce inventory and cut expenses. In June 2010, the company announced it would shut down for a further week in August to save money. The lay-off affected all workers except those on the PiperJet program and some critical company business functions.

On 1 May 2009, American Capital Strategies sold the company to Singapore-based investment strategy company Imprimis, making a profit of US$31M on the sale. Imprimis is funded by the Government of Brunei and has offices in Bangkok, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam.

In June 2009, James Bass, CEO of Piper Aircraft since 2005, announced he would step down effective that same month. He was succeeded by VP of operations Kevin Gould. During his four years at Piper, Bass oversaw development of the PiperJet, the Meridian G1000 and the Matrix, and negotiated a new business partnership with Honda. He also negotiated $32 million in incentives from the state and county that retained Piper's factory in Vero Beach, Florida.

On 2 November 2009, another Piper executive resigned. Company president John Becker announced his resignation effective 1 December 2009 to "to pursue other career opportunities". Becker was replaced as president by CEO Kevin Gould.

2010s

On 4 January 2010, the company announced Boeing subsidiary Aviall would act as Piper's sole global parts distributor.

In July 2010, CEO Kevin Gould resigned for unspecified reasons, having served just over a year in the post. Gould was replaced on an interim basis by Geoffrey Berger, managing director of Imprimus in Brunei, on behalf of the government of Brunei. Also in July 2010, longtime Piper media spokesman Mark Miller left the company.

In September 2010, Piper announced the lay-off of an additional 60 production workers. Piper's interim CEO Geoffrey Berger stated: "Piper remains challenged by overall market weakness". The company hired 140 workers for the PiperJet program in 2009–10.

Piper started renovation of a 75,000 sq ft (7,000 m2) factory in Vero Beach in October 2010, with a completion goal of 2011. The facility was intended to be used to build the PiperJet.

On 17 October 2011, the company announced Simon Caldecott had replaced Geoff Berger as interim CEO. At the same time, Executive Vice President Randy Groom also resigned from the company and it was announced that the Piper Altaire program was "under review". Only one week later, on 24 October 2011, Piper Aircraft announced it had “indefinitely suspended” all work on the Altaire project and would be laying off 150 of its 850 employees, plus 55 contract workers, due to the program’s cancellation.

In December 2011, Piper announced it was attempting to renegotiate the 2008 deal it had made with state of Florida and Indian River County for incentives. The company did not meet its contractual requirements to employ 1,100 people by the end of 2009, instead employment fell to 600, and as a result, the company owed US$1.5M. Piper is looking for forgiveness of the debt.

Aircraft

Piper's J-3 Cub, a single-engine, high-wing, two-seater, was the first inexpensive training aircraft produced in large numbers. Many former military examples were sold to civilian owners over the 1950-1995 period and seem certain to see many more years in recreational use. The more powerful Super Cub is popular for use as a glider tug.

The PA-28 Cherokee has been one of the company's most successful products, with variants being manufactured almost every other year. Both this design and the twin-engined PA-34 Seneca are used for pilot training around the world. The PA-23 Apache was one of the first aircraft associated with the term "air taxi", although it was superseded in that role by faster and more spacious designs from the competitive Beechcraft Corporation. In recent years, aircraft from SOCATA, and more recently Cirrus Design and Diamond Aircraft Industries, have been strong competitors with the Cherokee and Cessna designs that traditionally dominated flying schools.

Beginning production in 1965, the PA-32 series provided six- or seven-seat, single-engine designs based on the smaller Cherokee. Variously named Cherokee Six, Lance, and Saratoga, these were available as both fixed- and retractable-gear models and also with normally aspirated, fuel-injected, and turbocharged engines. The PA-32s proved popular with private owners, air taxi, and freight companies. Production of the Saratoga-II HPs and Saratoga TCs ended in 2009.

On 21 January 2010 the company announced they had licenced the CZAW SportCruiser and intended to market it as the PiperSport. Piper CEO Kevin Gould said, "The PiperSport is an amazing entry-level aircraft that will bring new customers into Piper and lead the way for those customers to step up into more sophisticated and higher performance aircraft within our line over time." In January 2011, the licensing agreement with Piper was abruptly ended with Piper CEO Geoffrey Berger saying "the company has a different business perspective and approach to the market than Czech Sport Aircraft".

List of Piper aircraft

Model name First flight Number built Type
J-2 Cub 1936 1207 Single-engined high-wing cabin monoplane
J-3 Cub 1938 19,888 Single-engined high-wing cabin monoplane
J-4 Cub Coupe 1939 1251 Single-engined high-wing cabin monoplane
J-5 Cub Cruiser 1940 1507 Single-engined high-wing cabin monoplane
P-1 Applegate Duck 1940 1 Amphibian
P-2 Cub 1941 1 Single-engined high-wing cabin monoplane
P-3 1939 1 Single-engined high-wing cabin monoplane, also known as J-4RX
P-4 Cub 1941 1 Single-engined high-wing cabin monoplane
P-5 1944 1 Single-engined high-wing cabin monoplane, also known as J-3X
PT-1 Trainer 1942 1 Two-seats in tandem, low-wing monoplane
PWA-1 Skycoupe 1943 1 Two-seat low wing twin-boom monoplane, later became PA-7
PWA-8 Cub Cycle 1944 1 Single-seat, mid-wing single-engine monoplane
PA-6 Sky Sedan 1945 2 Four-seat, low-wing retractable gear monoplane
PA-7 Skycoupe 1944 1 Two-seat low wing twin-boom monoplane, was PWA-1,
PA-8 Skycycle 1945 2 Single-seat, mid-wing single-engine monoplane
PA-9 1945 None Single-engined high-wing observation and liaison
PA-10 1946 None Single-engined low-wing side-by-side two-seater
PA-11 Cub Special 1947 1541 Single-engined high-wing cabin monoplane
PA-12 Super Cruiser 1946 3760 Single-engined high-wing cabin monoplane
PA-13 - none Designation not used
PA-14 Family Cruiser 1948 238 Single-engined high-wing cabin monoplane
PA-15 Vagabond 1948 387 Side-by-side two-seat high-wing
PA-16 Clipper 1949 736 Four-seat version of the PA-15
PA-17 Vagabond 1948 214 Dual-control variant of the PA-15
PA-18 Super Cub 1950 10,222 Single-engined high-wing cabin monoplane
PA-19 Super Cub 1949 3 Military variant of the PA-18
PA-20 Pacer 1950 1120 Re-designed PA-16
PA-21 1949 None Production version of the Bauman Brigadier
PA-22 Tri-Pacer 1951 9490 Updated version of the PA-20 with nose wheel
PA-23 Apache 1954 2047 Twin-engined low-wing cabin monoplane
PA-24 Comanche 1958 4717 Single-engine four-seat low-wing cabin monoplane
PA-24-400 Comanche 1964 148 Re-engined PA-24 development
PA-25 Pawnee 1959 5167 Single-engined agricultural monoplane
PA-26 None High-powered version of the PA-24
PA-27 Aztec 1960 4929 Improved version of the PA-23, kept PA-23 designation
PA-28 Cherokee 1961 10,896 Single-engined low-wing cabin monoplane
PA-28-140 Cherokee 1964 10,089 Two-seat training variant
PA-28 Warrior 1974 4842 Improved PA-28
PA-28-235 Cherokee/Dakota 1964 2913 Improved PA-28
PA-28R Arrow 1967 6694 Improved PA-28
PA-28R-300 Pillan 1982 2 plus kits for Chile Two-seat military trainer
PA-29 Papoose 1962 1 Small trainer of fiberglass construction
PA-30 Twin Comanche 1963 2001 Twin-engined low wing cabin monoplane
PA-31 Navajo 1967 1785 Twin-engined low wing cabin monoplane
PA-31-350 Chieftain 1973 1825 Stretched Navajo
PA-31P Navajo / Mojave 1970 309 Pressurized Navajo
PA-31T Cheyenne 1974 847 Turboprop powered Navajo
PA-32 Cherokee Six 1966 4373 Six-seat Cherokee
PA-32R Lance/Saratoga 1976 2721 Retractable landing gear variant of the PA-32
PA-33 Comanche 1966 1 Pressurized Comanche
PA-34 Seneca 1972 4354 Twin-engine low-wing cabin monoplane
PA-35 Pocono 1968 1 Twin-engined pressurized commuter airliner
PA-36 Pawnee Brave 1973 938 Single-engined agricultural monoplane
PA-37 1960s None Twin-engined PA-33
PA-38 Tomahawk 1978 2519 Two-seat basic trainer
PA-39 Twin Comanche C/R 1970 155 Improved PA-30
PA-40 Arapaho 1973 3 built,
5 not completed
PA-30 replacement
PA-41P 1974 1 Pressurized Aztec
Piper PA-42 Cheyenne 1980 175 T-tail pressurized twin
PA-43 1979 None Piston-engined PA-42
PA-44 Seminole 1979 469 Twin-engined Arrow
PA-45 1970s None Six-seat T-tailed aircraft family
PA-46 Malibu 1984 344 Six-seat pressurized single
PA-47 Piperjet 2008 1 prototype only seating for 6 or 7 based on configuration
PA-48 Enforcer 1971 4 prototypes Single-seat counter-insurgency aircraft
based on the Cavalier Mustang/P-51 Mustang
PA-60 Aerostar 1967 1010 Six-seat pressurized twin,
Piper purchased the design from Ted R. Smith
PiperSport 2010 40 Two-seat light-sport aircraft. Piper marketed the aircraft between Jan 2010 and Jan 2011. It was produced by Czech Sport Aircraft and previously known as the SportCruiser
Last updated April 09, 2012
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Piper Aircraft".
By use of this site, you accept the Terms And Conditions Of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us
Copyright © 2004-2014 Airplane Mart Publishing. All rights reserved...