January 13, 2011
By Alton K. Marsh
Citing differences in business philosophies, Piper Aircraft ended its relationship with Czech Sport Aircraft, the manufacturer of Piper’s PiperSport light sport aircraft. The aircraft was marketed prior to January 2010 as the SportCruiser. Piper has entered a transition period to end the business association.
Orders already in the pipeline will be filled, officials said. PiperSport importer and distributor Don Ayres, president of U.S. Sport Aircraft of Fort Pierce, Fla., said he will continue to sell the aircraft, although perhaps under a different name. Ayres received the aircraft from the Czech Republic, assembled them, and shipped them to dealers. He said 45 aircraft had been sold by the end of 2010.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Dave Hirschman flew the PiperSport at the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in 2010 and reported on the experience for the March issue.
Ayres was reluctant to go beyond the official Piper press release, saying only that there were “cultural differences” between Piper and Czech Sport Aircraft. Piper sold the PiperSport through 16 distributors worldwide. Parts and warranty support will continue.
Piper plans to exhibit at the Sebring, Fla., LSA show, the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo, Jan. 20 through 23 as a “show of support for the industry,” a Piper official said. The company is honoring a previous commitment to attend and support the trade show at the Sebring Regional Airport.
“After a year working with Czech Sport Aircraft, Piper determined that it is in our company’s best long-term interests to discontinue the business relationship which distributed a light sport aircraft manufactured by the Czech company and distributed under Piper’s brand by a separate distributor network,” said Piper CEO Geoffrey Berger. “Clearly, the company has a different business perspective and approach to the market than Czech Sport Aircraft,” he added.
“Piper had created a stand-alone distributor network specifically to market the aircraft manufactured and supported by Czech Sport Aircraft and branded as the PiperSport,” the Piper press release states. “As the company built that distributor network, it became clear that Piper’s core strengths and that of Czech Sport Aircraft were mismatched.”
Berger praised the aircraft and the light sport aircraft industry. “We at Piper have a close affinity with this emerging segment of the marketplace and we have great expectations for the LSA industry. The LSA we were distributing is a good one and we encourage aviation enthusiasts to continue their support of this segment of the market,” Berger added.
“We certainly understand the implications of this development in the light sport aircraft segment and do not take this action carelessly,” he said. “As we have reiterated, Piper is committed to the company’s line of efficient and reliable personal, training, and business aircraft. We also continue to support and strengthen an extraordinary global network of Piper dealers and agents dedicated to marketing and supporting these great Piper aircraft for the long-term,” Berger said.
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.
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