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Altaire jet on hold, Piper picks up new manufacturing work


When Piper Aircraft suspended its single-engine jet program last fall, it also faced having to slash dozens of engineering and other jobs. That could have jeopardized tax breaks the company nabbed before the recession for creating and keeping jobs in Vero Beach, Fla. But instead of cutting jobs, Piper is now putting those people to work building plastic prototypes and precision machined parts for a local submersible company. The contract with Triton Submarines is small, valued at $90,000, but is proving Piper’s ability to adapt its workforce and equipment to non-aviation projects, company officials said. Triton said it may expand its contract with Piper, to include making hatch assemblies and battery pods. And that, Piper hopes, could lead to more contracts from other companies, helping Piper sustain itself as long as sales of new general aviation aircraft remain sluggish.