Can SportCruiser Rally After Losing Piper’s Backing?

Carl A. Miller

The U.S. Sport Aviation Expo, kicking off today, should provide a forum for further answers to the future of Czech Sport Aircraft's SportCruiser. Last week, Piper announced it was breaking off its relationship with the Czech Republic-based company, and the name PiperSport has been stripped from the aircraft's marketing resume. The 13 U.S. dealers quickly rallied to announce they would form a dealers' association that would continue to market and import the aircraft without Piper's backing. Piper's plans had always been to sell and support the aircraft through an independent network. "The only thing we are losing is the name," said Tom Ellery of San Diego Sport Flyers, one of the 13 dealers in the new association. To date, 45 SportCruisers have been imported from the factory in Kunovice, the Czech Republic, many as demonstrators for the dealerships. Ellery said there will be no change to the service and warranty policies. The dealers' association did announce it would establish a central parts depot in Florida and also set up a warranty fund. Piper CEO Geoffrey Berger said, "Clearly [Piper] has a different business perspective and approach to the market than Czech Sport Aircraft."

Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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