Piper workers face one-week unpaid furlough

VERO BEACH — While Piper Aircraft officials have been painting a rosy picture for the company this year, it appears they may fall well short of their prediction of a 75 percent increase in deliveries over last year.In fact, the company told workers Monday orders had slowed to the point that everyone at Piper — except those working on the PiperJet and working on crucial company matters — would take an unpaid one-week furlough starting Aug.9. Officials said they do not expect layoffs, but would be monitoring conditions going forward. Piper has been hiring back workers since late last year when it reached a low of about 550 employees. They place their workforce now at about 900 people.Officials had announced in January that they were bucking the industry trend and expected an increase in deliveries of 50 percent from the 90 planes in 2009. In fact, they had upped that number to closer to 75 percent, mostly trainer planes in the Asian market where they claimed to be making inroads.However, reports from the factory floor indicate that they lost a huge Asian order of some 40 planes. One company official put the number at closer to 10 and said it was a matter of financing that was expected to be resolved soon.

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