|The Piper Seneca V received certification for the Garmin G1000 avionics suite this year. (photo by James Wynbrandt)
By James Wynbrandt
July 30, 2013 - Piper Aircraft is featuring several VIPs - very important planes - ranging from trainer to top-of-the-line turboprop at its display area (Booth 140-145/156-161) here at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2013. The lineup includes the Team Chambliss Piper Meridian turboprop support aircraft used by air show ace Kirby Chambliss, as well as the Edge 540 aerobatic aircraft he flies in air shows.
Piper is also celebrating two historic first flights here at the show: the 60th anniversary of the inaugural flight of the first twin-engine prototype Piper Apache (July 29), and the 30th anniversary of the first flight of the pre-production Piper Malibu (July 27). Said Piper President and CEO Simon Caldecott, "Piper today has been shaped to a large extent by these two memorable programs."
The 800th Piper Mirage, Piper's pressurized, piston-powered M-Class aircraft, fresh off the assembly line, is also on display, along with two Piper Twin Class aircraft: a Seneca V and Seminole, both equipped with Garmin G1000 avionics suites, for which each model received a type certificate this year.
Piper's Trainer Class is represented by Archer 93UL, a modified Archer TX powered by 93 octane unleaded automobile gas, flown here from the company's Vero Beach, Florida, headquarters.
The impressive display is reflective of the sales performance Piper Aircraft reported at its AirVenture press conference Monday. Continuing a steady three-year increase in sales, Caldecott said the company delivered 86 airplanes and had revenue of $77 million in the first half of this year, versus sales of 76 aircraft and $69 million in revenue recorded for the corresponding period in 2012. Revenue has grown each year since 2009, when it totaled $87 million, reaching $149 million last year, which the company is on pace to best by double digits in 2013.
"While we remain cautiously optimistic about the future, we are pleased with Piper's overall improved performance trajectory for the past three and a half years," Caldecott said.
Chambliss, who's performing here at Oshkosh, will be at the Piper exhibit to sign autographs and meet attendees on Wednesday and Friday morning.