A couple of years ago I had a long chat with Piper's now ex-CEO, Jim Bass. He explained how Piper's fortune (and in General Aviation fortune is interchangeable with survival) was pretty much based on the six-seat fuselage that is the Matrix, Mirage and Meridian. He couldn't quite bring himself to say it out loud, but the four-seat, single-engine line was, well, a little tired. Jim's view of Piper's future didn't include a whole lot of four-seater business.
Skip forward a couple of years. Jim Bass has gone and Kevin Gould now sits in the left-hand seat at Piper. Last summer, Gould announced that the Warrior would be relaunched with a glass cockpit and leather interior and now he's telling the world that Piper is entering the LSA market. Unlike Cessna, Piper hasn't developed its own aeroplane, but has instead reached an exclusive distribution arrangement with Czech Sport Aircraft. The SportCruiser is no more; in its place is the PiperSport.
With Piper and Cessna both selling LSAs, the sector is maturing nicely - who knows, perhaps even Cirrus Aircraft will relaunch the SRS, a project they put on a distant back-burner over a year ago.
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