Piper on Monday indefinitely suspended its single-engine Altaire jet, previously known as the PiperJet, saying it would be unlikely to recoup its investment in a reasonable period of time.
"Following an evaluation of Altaire development and light jet forecasts we determined the best course of action for the company going forward,” interim Piper president/CEO Simon Caldecott said in an email release, “is to indefinitely suspend the program, preserving intellectual property and progress to date." This course of action seems to leave Piper’s options for the jet open going forward.
The company also says that it was not a question of the program’s progress or the Altaire hitting its targets; it was, said Caldecott, ”... on schedule, on budget, and hitting aircraft performance targets.” Piper’s review of the program, he continued, revealed that “planned development costs had risen above the point that were recoverable under foreseeable light jet market projections.”
Piper plans to lay off 150 workers as a result, most of them employees who were working on the Altaire program. "Unfortunately and regrettably, this will have serious consequences for many talented Piper employees," said Caldecott. The move will reduce the level of employment at Piper’s Vero Beach plant from 850 workers to 700.
Caldecott also said the company regrets the consequences of the decision on Piper Altaire customers to whom it says, it will issue refunds or, at the customer’s option, give them a credit toward another Piper product.
Caldecott said that the company plans to “ step up product improvements for our turboprop and piston-powered product lines” and to add engineers toward that end.