Kevin Gould, Piper Aircraft’s CEO since June 10, 2009, mapped out his long term two-pronged growth strategy for the company during an interview with Aviation Week at Oshkosh on Tuesday, July 28, 2009. Gould plans to pursue development of the Piper Jet to provide piston-engine and single-engine turboprop owners with a move up airplane while continuing to upgrade Piper’s existing product line. He also wants to expand Piper’s global presence with sales and marketing, training, MRO, financing and dealer organizations. Admittedly, that’s tough to do in the current economy.
“The economy paces aircraft development. The recession has hammered our profits, so we can’t do this by ourselves. The investment by Imprimus changed all that a couple of months ago,” Gould explained. That reinvigorated the near-dormant Piper Jet development program, but Gould said the schedule is being “recast”, so certification is being pushed out well beyond 2011, the original target for entry-into-service. “Our reputation depends upon our ability to execute,” he said, so he’s not going to promise more than he can reliably deliver. But, he did say that the prototype Piper Jet that’s visiting Oshkosh this week is meeting performance projections and accomplishing engineering flight test goals. Piper has 200 wholesale and 40 retail orders for the PA-47 Piper Jet.
Meanwhile Piper is pursuing upgrades of its current product line including making the Garmin G600 avionics system optional on Archer, Warrior, Seminole and Seneca, adding the Hartzell composite scimitar-blade Top Prop to Piper Matrix and Mirage and looking into fitting some models with TCM’s newly approved FADEC that will permit use of 94UL unleaded avgas.
“Piper used to be one of the top general aviation companies in the world. We’re expanding the product line with relevant products in each market segment, ranging from trainers all the way through light jets.”
Product demand also will be paced by global market development. “We’ve been absent for 15 years and now we have to reinvigorate the market to develop a strong global presence. The Matrix is doing well in Brazil. Australia is a perfect general aviation market because it has poor roads and we need to expand throughout southeast Asia.”
With the fresh infusion of funds from Imprimus representing the Sultan of Brunei, the prospects appear bright for Gould to execute on his plans to renew and refresh Piper’s product line and expand its presence around the world in spite of the worst recession in eight decades.