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Slowing sales trigger layoffs at Piper

Piper says it will still work toward certification of the M600.

Piper Aircraft, citing a sales slowdown and economic instability in some of its markets, announced that it will lay off up to 150 of its approximately 750 employees.

The Vero Beach, Florida-based aircraft manufacturer said the decision to idle a yet-undisclosed number of workers was a direct result of the sales slowdown, as reflected in declining aircraft deliveries in the first quarter of fiscal year 2015, and continuing "sluggish" second-quarter deliveries that "have not bounced back to the pace experienced in previous years."

Total layoffs would affect 15 percent to 20 percent of the company workforce, and result in a downward revision of aircraft production for the rest of 2015 and 2016, Piper said in its July 15announcement.

Piper President Simon Caldecott added that although the company "has experienced steady recovery since 2009," Piper was "facing challenges and economic instability in several key regions of the world, including Asia, parts of Europe, and Latin America."

That assessment was consistent with a 2014 year-end analysis of aircraft sales figures released by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, which indicated that North America was driving movement back to pre-2008 aircraft sales levels, while other regions remained challenged. 

Caldecott, describing the decision to cut back employment at Piper as "agonizing," said the company would focus on preserving its market share and working toward certification of the M600, a $2.82 million, top-of-the-line single-engine turboprop introduced in April.

Caldecott said he remained optimistic of a recovery in piston and turboprop aircraft sales, even as Piper began to prepare a schedule of personnel reductions and arrange to connect workers with public and private job-placement organizations.

Dan Namowitz
Dan Namowitz
Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 35-year AOPA member.
Topics: Financial, Aviation Industry, Aircraft

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