Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Czech Sport Aircraft on End of Piper Deal | AVIATION WEEK

By Benet Wilson(AW&ST)

Management at Czech Sport Aircraft (CSA) agrees with Piper Aircraft that “differences in business philosophies” led to the demise of its partnership to market the PiperSport light-sport aircraft (BA, Jan. 17/3). But the Czech Republic-based company maintains that the program is continuing to move ahead without the partnership.
Piper cited differences in business philosophies earlier this month when it announced that it was ending the partnership. But the Vero Beach, Fla. plane maker declined to provide specifics. Czech Sport Aircraft, however, notes that geographic marketing strategies played a role in the disagreement. “Czech Sport Aircraft was frustrated by Piper focusing the plane on the U.S. market and not the rest of the world,” spokesman Ben Franklin says.
Going forward, the aircraft will be marketed under its original name, the SportCruiser, Franklin says. “It was the SportCruiser before, and all the current approvals and regulatory documents are still in place, so the name change was pretty straightforward,” he explains. Customers who ordered the aircraft as the PiperSport “will get it as PiperSport. But any new orders will be SportCruisers.”
Aside from that, it is pretty much business as usual, Franklin says. The aircraft’s network of dealers, distributors and service agents will continue to operate and be strengthened to show market confidence, he adds. CSA continues to be backed by private capital firm Slavia Capital, based in Bratislava, Slovakia, and says it has orders for more than 150 aircraft.
CSA also plans to introduce what it calls “significant new design changes,” including revisions of the aircraft’s spinner, canopy, elevator, ailerons and wingtips. The company expects to receive during the first quarter the final issue of the SportCruiser’s European Aviation Safety Agency restricted type certificate, which will allow the aircraft to be used for flight training in the region.
The SportCruiser will be made available in different configurations, build and trim levels, ranging from a QuickBuild/Experimental model for home builders to a ready-to-fly model that will include a choice of basic analog instruments up to a full glass-panel configuration with leather seats, ballistic recovery system and autopilot.
Looking ahead, CSA will continue to show the SportCruiser at events around the world as part of its marketing efforts, Franklin says. Upcoming events include the Australian Air Show at Avalon Airport, AeroExpo UK and others, Franklin says.
Photo credit: Piper

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