Piper Aircraft has started fabrication and assembly will begin in August of the first conforming flight test article of the company’s new and efficient single engine Altaire business jet. Inaugural flight of the conforming PiperJet Altaire will be in 2012 with certification and deliveries in 2014.
“The Altaire is pioneering the single-engine business jet, just like the Piper Meridian and other single-engine turboprops have proven in rigorous worldwide use that the fundamental efficiencies and safety of centerline thrust aircraft deliver the greatest value to owners and operators,” said Piper President and CEO Geoffrey Berger.
“The advantage that Piper has over other manufacturers with an interest in a single-engine jet is a solid underlying commitment by Imprimis, the owner of the company, to appropriately fund the program and see it through to successful completion,” Berger says. Currently Piper has assigned nearly 200 engineers and production staff to deliver on the promise of an entry-level business jet with the economics of a turboprop and the cabin size and capabilities of a much larger business jet.
In addition to starting assembly of the first conforming flight test article, later this year Piper will begin fabrication and assembly of a structural test article, which will eventually be joined by three additional flying conforming test aircraft to become part of the certification program. Also part of the FAA certification program will be a bird strike canopy and a fuel cell/vibration test wing. Construction of all of these articles will be underway during 2012.
The company is in the midst of a $5.6 million program in building improvements to ready facilities at its Vero Beach, Fla. manufacturing and headquarters campus for necessary production, final assembly, completion and deliveries. Recently it named Altaire Chief of Production Michael Dow to oversee the manufacturing of the business jet.
Piper Altaire maximum range is targeted at 1,300 nautical miles with a maximum cruise speed planned at 360 knots. The airplane’s range is 1,200 nautical miles with a payload of 800 pounds. Price point for a typically equipped aircraft is $2.6 million. The Piper Altaire costs an average of 25 percent less to operate per hour than comparable production very light jets.