VERO BEACH — Fueled by an increase in sales from its trainer fleet, Piper Aircraft bucked the industry trend and improved shipments in the first quarter of 2010, though its revenue dropped compared to the first three months of last year.
Piper reported shipments to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association of 30 planes in the first quarter, including 8 Warrior III and 5 Archer III trainers for total billings of $18,458,531. Overall, industry aircraft shipments declined 15 percent in the first quarter compared to a year ago, but total sales were up about 7 percent.
In the first quarter of 2009 Piper reported shipments of 22 planes, but 18 of those were their high end Matrix and Meridian aircraft for total billings of $20,797,831.
Piper officials are expecting shipments to increase over the coming months and have been beefing up factory hires to meet the demand. The company currently has about 840 people on staff, well off the low point last year of about 550 workers.
Piper officials have gone on record that they expect to increase shipments by more than 50 percent over the 90 aircraft sold last year. The bulk of those shipments will be trainers to markets that are opening up in Asia.