Piper made its first appearance at AirVenture under new ownership and under the stewardship of new CEO Kevin Gould and President John Becker. Now owned by Imprimis, Piper unveiled sweeping plans to expand its product line globally and moved to "reintroduce" two of its training airplanes, the Warrior and the Seminole, in support of the initiative to expand its reach into the Far East. It also said that it was looking for dealers to sell Piper airplanes in 12 untapped regions of the world, including India, China, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
Enabling the reintroduction of the two airplanes, Piper VP of Marketing Bob Kromer said, was the adoption of the Garmin G600 flat-panel avionics package with solid-state attitude and heading. The system gives flight schools, said Kromer, the Garmin system they were asking for but at a price that kept the cost of the airplanes down.
Piper is also going to resurrect the Archer, its 180-hp single. It too will be equipped with a G600 avionics system, leather interior, and S-Tec 55X autopilot. Cost will be in the neighborhood of $300,000.
Lastly, Piper gave a progress report on its PiperJet, which has now amassed 130 flights and 200 hours of flight time. Kromer said that based on current aerodynamic data, the airplane was a lock to make its guaranteed speed, range and climb performance guarantees. Becker, who was in charge of the design of the jet, said that a breakthrough had been achieved on the design, thanks to a new passive thrust vectoring system pioneered by Williams International, supplier of the FJ-44 that powers the jet. The system automatically adjusts the thrust vector at low altitude to compensate for the nose-down pitch change that naturally results from the high-mounted engine. Becker said the addition would obviate the need to add active trim compensation. To punctuate the update, the PiperJet made several passes over the flightline at EAA AirVenture shortly after the announcements.