Piper Aircraft’s newly announced PiperJet was the star of the show at this year’s National Business Aviation Association convention, held last month in Orlando.
Revealed shortly before the convention to a public anticipating it eagerly, it quickly became the “must-see” airplane even though it was a mockup and not due for certification until 2009. Indeed, the first flight isn’t scheduled until 2008 with first deliveries in 2010, but apparently that didn’t faze would-be buyers.
Piper’s single engine, all-metal turbofan is expected to cruise at 360 knots at up to 35,000 feet. The six-passenger jet — with an option for a seventh seat or an enclosable lavatory — has a range of 1,300 nautical miles with a full-fuel payload of 800 pounds, making it capable of one-stop transcontinental flights.
“Every measure has been taken to make sure that the PiperJet answers what our customers have told us they want and need in a jet, because at the end of the day, it’s not about being first to market, it’s about getting it right in the first place,” said James Bass, Piper’s president and CEO.
The jet is priced at $2.199 million.
For more information: NewPiper.com.
This year’s NBAA convention was called “the biggest and best in the association’s history,” according to NBAA President Ed Bolen.
Held at Orlando, Fla., Oct. 17-19, the convention attracted 33,088 people. The previous record was 31,665 in 1998. In addition, exhibit space was sold out for the first time in the event’s 59-year history. Four helicopters and 11 fixed-wing aircraft were on the exhibit floor and another 117 were on display at Orlando Executive Airport.
A flood of announcements from exhibitors suggest that a record number of orders may have been taken for new airplanes, most of them business jets and turboprops.
Embraer (Embraer.com) announced orders for 20 of its Phenom 100 four-place jets from fractional ownership company Avantair, and 24 from Spanish on-demand operator Wondair.
XOJet, another fractional operation, ordered 12 new Citation Xs from Cessna, bringing its Citation X fleet to 18 and making it the largest privately-owned Citation X fleet, according to the firm’s president and CEO, Paul Touw.
In all, Cessna (Cessna.com) said it took 115 jet orders at NBAA and expects most, if not all, to be finalized. Cessna also sold four turboprop Caravans at the show and Bell Helicopter, one of Cessna’s sister Textron companies, sold 10 commercial helicopters.
Eclipse (EclipseAviation.com) sold three Eclipse 500s to Dole Food Co., supplementing Dole’s existing fleet of aircraft to move key personnel throughout the continental United States, Hawaii and Latin America more efficiently, said David H. Murdock, who owns Dole.
“It has always been our vision that the Eclipse 500 would enhance existing flight departments in the corporate market,” said Michael McConnell, Eclipse vice president of sales and marketing. “We could never replace the large business jets and commercial airliners that fly international or long range routes, but regional business travelers will benefit significantly from the addition of small, state-of-the-art jets that have the speed and airport access to take you exactly where you want to go.”
Adam Aircraft (AdamAircraft.com) sold 101 A700 jets (50 firm, 51 options) to Magnum Jet for a new VLJ ownership and management program and a future air limousine service. Magnum also ordered 50 Embraer Phenom 100s. Jim Burns, Magnum CEO, described the Phenom 100 as “kind of our BMW and the Adam is kind of our Porsche.”
Much of the mystery around “the-jet” from Cirrus remains, although its unusual name was explained by John Bingham, the company’s marketing and sales vice president. He says that so many people asked when Cirrus would be “doing the jet” that employees started calling it that and the name stuck.
Cirrus did announce at the NBAA convention that the 1,900-pound thrust Williams FJ-33-4A-19 turbofan has been chosen to power the-jet, which will have Cirrus’s signature BRS parachute but, other than that, details were hard to come by. Company announcements have said that it will cruise at more than 300 knots up to 25,000 feet, which Alan Klapmeier also said in an April interview.
Neither Klapmeier nor Bingham would say how many seats the-jet will have, although Klapmeier referred to a wide, comfortable cabin during the interview. Apparently the-jet will be Cirrus’s first retractable. No avionics had been announced as of press time.
As to certification, that will come “as soon as possible,” Bingham said, but – like Piper’s – probably not for three to four years. Cirrus has started taking orders, however, and has received what Bingham termed a “substantial” number of deposits despite the murkiness about exactly what buyers will get.
Although the emphasis at NBAA was on jets, some piston aircraft were sold, as well. Cirrus, alone, announced the sale of 50 SR22s to South Carolina-based SATSair, with options for 50 more. SATSair is an air taxi operation which already owns a number of Cirrus airplanes.
For more information: CirrusDesign.com