PiperJet to be on display at first airshow

VERO BEACH — The PiperJet, which has been taking most of its test runs in the skies over Vero Beach, will make its public debut at AirVenture in Oshkosh, which bills itself as the”World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration.”

“Oshkosh is the major leagues,” Piper spokesman Mark Miller said to aviation Web site The Northwestern. “It’s an important show for anybody in general aviation and to be at Oshkosh is to be seen and recognized.” The Wisconsin event runs from July 27 to Aug. 2. The PiperJet, which the company is banking on as its future, has already logged 181 hours of flying time on 221 test flights.

Piper has gone through some big changes recently with new CEO Kevin Gould taking over from Jim Bass and a new owner in Imprimis. The Brunei-based investment company has stated its desire to provide the necessary capital to bring the PiperJet to market by late 2011.

The Vero Beach-based aircraft company is in the process of hiring 25 engineers to begin the next phase of development for the jet. At the same time, Piper has maintained its stated position of building only as many planes as it has orders and that means the one week a month furloughs will continue until market conditions improve — in other words, indefinitely.

The company also has nothing new to report about the next round of funding from the state and Indian River County. Piper informed government officials in late December, 2008, that given current market conditions it would not seek the next round of $10.667 million until market conditions improve. Piper has already received the first round of the total $32 million the state and county promised the company to keep it from moving its headquarters out of Vero Beach. As the worldwide economic downturn remains in effect, company officials have no plans to ask for the $4 million the county would have to pay and the $6.667 million the state had pledged.

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