January 21, 2009
By Alton K. Marsh
Piper Aircraft has confirmed to Florida media that the company has laid off 150 of its workers, based on a prediction of a 40-percent slump in production this year because of the weak economy. Development of the PiperJet is not affected.
Prior to the layoffs Piper employed about 1,000 workers with an annual payroll of $50 million. Workers returned after a routine holiday shutdown on Jan. 12. Late last year Piper deferred the second of three incentive payments from Indian River County and the state of Florida for $10.667 million because it was based on a ramp-up in employment. To qualify for the payment, Piper was to have employed an average of 1,166 workers by the end of 2009. The incentive payments were to keep Piper from moving its headquarters and to assure that the PiperJet would be built in Vero Beach, Fla., the company’s current headquarters.
Piper did not rule out the possibility of further layoffs if a poor economy requires more than a 40-percent reduction in production.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
AOPA expressed concern in a meeting with town officials from East Hampton, New York, that restrictions proposed to curb airport noise “overwhelmingly” generated by transient commercial flights would unfairly burden traditional airport users.
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