Last year was a tough one for The New Piper Aircraft Co.
The Vero Beach, Fla.-based company was hit by a “couple” of hurricanes last year, said Chuck Suma, president and CEO. “But from adversity comes strength,” he noted. “The company is a lot stronger today than it was before the hurricane.”
Employees pulled together and an “outpouring” from customers helped tremendously. About $80,000 was raised for an employee relief fund, he added.
The company has hired 200 new employees since January and expects to be back in full production by June, he said.
On the production line will be the company’s flagship aircraft, the Piper Meridian, which now features the Avidyne FlightMax Entegra integrated glass cockpit as standard equipment.
The Meridian joins the ranks of the PA-28 family of aircraft, the Warrior III, Archer III and Arrow, and the PA-32 family, the Saratoga II HP, the Saratoga II TC, the Piper 6X and the Piper 6XT — all of which offer Avidyne’s glass cockpit.
“This takes the Meridian to the next level,” Suma said. “As we move forward, we will continue to drive innovation with the Avidyne flight deck.”
The Meridian implementation of the FlightMax Entegra “shows the way forward for general aviation glass cockpits,” added Dan Schwinn, Avidyne’s president. “The redundancy and pilot-friendly access to such a wide range of flight management and situational awareness tools set a performance standard for small aircraft operation.”
The Meridian’s FlightMax Entegra system consists of three 10.4-inch diagonal, high-resolution displays, including dual redundant EXP5000 primary flight displays with dual integrated air data and attitude/heading reference system (ADAHRS), primary engine instruments and flight director. The two displays include a cross compare system, which constantly monitors both displays and ADAHRS and alerts pilots in the event of any discrepancy. Each PFD is driven by its own independent ADAHRS, although a single ADAHRS can drive both displays.
First deliveries of the Avidyne-equipped Meridian are expected to begin in July.
In other news, the company has added its new Piper Inadvertent Icing Protection System (PIIPS) as optional equipment on its unpressurized six-seat, single-engine models, including the Saratoga II HP, the Saratoga II TC, the Piper 6X and the Piper 6XT.
Based on the TKS “weeping wing” technology, the icing system provides pilots with the capability to stop ice formation or remove small amounts of accumulated ice in the event they encounter unforecasted icing conditions.
The system is not approved for Flight Into Known Icing. “It is an easy and capable system for use in emergency situations,” Suma said.
The system pumps a glycol-based fluid onto the leading edge of the wings, horizontal stabilizer and propeller. A simple, three-position toggle switch controls operation and a panel-mounted gauge shows the remaining fluid level. Pilots can select between “off”, “normal” and “TKS max.” Normal operation will produce a protective film of glycol that keeps the airframe free of ice for up to two hours with a full tank of fluid.
If ice has already accumulated, the max mode doubles the amount of fluid distributed to the wings, horizontal stabilizer and propeller slinger ring, breaking the ice bond.
The system add just 81 pounds, with full fluid, to the aircraft.
Price for the optional system is $28,500.