Piper Shakes Up Management
Single-engine jet program under review
By J. Mac McClellan, Director of Publications, EAA 747337
Along with announcing a change at the top, Piper reports the single-engine jet Altaire program is under review. Piper photo
October 17, 2011 – Piper announced that it has promoted Simon Caldecott to president and CEO of the company. Caldecott had been heading up Piper’s operations, including manufacturing, for the past two years.
Caldecott replaced Geoff Berger, who has been the interim president and CEO for the past year. Also departing the company is Executive Vice President Randy Groom, who had been leading sales and marketing, among other duties, for the past few years. Groom had become the visible face of Piper, taking the lead at trade shows and press events.
Another potentially very important aspect of the Piper management change announcement is that the single-engine jet Altaire is under review. “This is being undertaken to ensure the company is properly aligning business goals and light jet market forecasts with investment strategies and economic forecasts,” the statement said.
Piper had conducted a complete redesign of the jet over the past couple of years, increasing the cabin size markedly and offering sales incentives for pilots who buy a turboprop Meridian while awaiting certification and delivery of an Altaire. Though the Piper statement does not hint at what direction the company may go with the jet program, the fact that “investments” and “light jet market forecast” are mentioned does not amount to a ringing endorsement of the program.
The other two significant single-engine jet programs from Cirrus and Diamond have been struggling with funding and development issues, so it would not be surprising to see Piper coming up against similar challenges with the Altaire. In the statement Piper management promises to tell its employees and the industry the results of the Altaire program review as soon as possible.
Caldecott comes to Piper through Hawker Beechcraft, but his roots are with the Hawker 125 business jet program in England. His 37 years of experience in the industry have focused on manufacturing, including developing lean manufacturing techniques.
Piper is owned by the Ministry of Finance of the Government of Brunei. In the statement Piper said deliveries of its piston and turboprop airplanes have increased quarter over quarter and that it will continue to make “thoughtful investments” in continuous improvement of its line of airplanes.