While wildly successful in courting large university and airline training organizations to its full-featured trainer fleet, Piper Aircraft leaders saw a need for lower-cost options for “self-funded” flight schools. The company's solution was announced April 2 at the Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-In and Expo: the Piper Pilot 100 and 100i, trimmed down variants of the venerable PA–28 Archer TX.
Piper CEO Simon Caldecott said the new models are designed for smaller flight schools who want new airplanes. He said the training market is “no place for a light sport-derived anything.” Flight schools, he said, wanted an airplane with the durability and reliability of the Piper products, but at a price point affordable to local flight schools.
A base model Archer TX is $369,000, according to Caldecott. The 100 starts at $259,000; the 100i starts at $285,000.
The company is planning a demo tour this summer to flight schools, seeking additional input before finalizing the design and beginning production. The first airplanes will be available in limited quantities starting in 2020. And they are not just for flight schools, Caldecott said. Individuals wanting a lower-cost option also can order one from the factory.