September 28, 2010
AOPA ePublishing staff
While Piper Aircraft’s deliveries for 2010 will increase by 40 percent compared to 2009, sales are still not meeting projections, necessitating layoff of 60 employees, according to Randy Groom, Piper executive vice president. Groom stopped by AOPA on Sept. 29 to discuss the status of the company. Piper plans to deliver more than 150 airplanes this year compared to just 94 last year. However, the 2010 production plan called for even more aggressive growth, which has not materialized.
In a video interview with AOPA Live, Groom cited general economic malaise, financing difficulties for customers, and a glut of used aircraft as contributing causes to the weak sales.
The layoffs reduced their workforce of 890 workers to 830 as of Sept. 27, yet the move leaves total employment and aircraft production ahead of September 2009 levels.
Most of the workers were in manufacturing. Piper interim CEO Geoffrey L. Berger said the company had expected sales of 200 aircraft when the year began, but that forecast was reduced first to 162 in June, and now 159 aircraft.
The company sold 94 airplanes in 2009. In July of 2009 the company had 580 employees. Much of the increase in employee numbers came from the PiperJet program. Piper has hired 140 employees over the past year for the PiperJet. The company hopes to put the aircraft in production by late 2011.
Piper continues to aggressively search for new markets, and has opened sales offices around the world aimed at the Pacific Rim, South America, and Europe. Company representative Jim Gregory termed the layoffs an unfortunate adjustment in a difficult economy. The news follows by less than one week layoffs of 700 employees at Cessna Aircraft and 350 at Hawker Beechcraft.
Connecticut lawmakers have voted to recognize Gustave Whitehead as the first pilot to achieve powered flight. The bill awaits the governor’s signature, and marks the latest round in a newly revived debate.
Waco Classic Aircraft Corp. officially unveiled the first conforming new production Great Lakes 2T-1A-2, an aerobatic biplane.
Brazil’s brand-new Wega arrived in the United States in April. The Wega is an all-composite, Experimental-category airplane built in the Santa Catarina district in Brazil.