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Mon, Oct 17, 2011

Piper Announces Another New CEO, Altaire Review

Former Raytheon & Hawker VP Simon Caldecott Replaces Berger

Just days after touting its business jet project at NBAA 2011 in Las Vegas, Piper Aircraft has announced another turnover in top management, and a new interim CEO whose first statement is to question whether the Altaire development program is properly aligned with market forecasts and company goals.

Leaving the building are Interim CEO Geoff Berger and Executive VP Randy Groom. Piper says Simon Caldecott has been appointed the new Interim President and CEO of Piper Aircraft, Inc., effective immediately. Caldecott joined Piper in 2009 and is the former Vice President of Operations responsible for Manufacturing Operations, Manufacturing Engineering, Quality and Supply Chain.

Caldecott commented, "I would like to thank Geoff Berger for his outstanding service to Piper throughout his time here. His hard work and contributions have seen us through many important changes that have helped continue a great tradition of precision manufacturing and delivering best-in-class airplanes."

The statement acknowledges that Piper's existing products are doing well. But Caldecott cast new uncertainty on the jet program, saying, "While the company continues to achieve internal financial and delivery targets for the existing turboprop and piston product lines, we have initiated a review of the Altaire business jet development program. 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 last two years have been tumultuous for those in top management at Piper Aircraft. The original PiperJet, which was to have been based on the M-class piston and turboprop models and was being promoted at industry shows, was scrapped in May of 2009 in favor of a larger design after Imprimis, managing capital for the Ministry of Finance of Brunei, bought Piper and committed additional funding. CEO Jim Bass was shown the door the following month, replaced by then-VP of operations Kevin Gould, who lasted only 14 months in the position. Berger, also a managing director for Imprimis, was announced as Gould's interim replacement in July of last year, serving just 15 months.

Caldecott is a 37-year industry veteran and former VP with Raytheon and Hawker Beechcraft. Piper describes him as "a Green Belt in the Six Sigma process improvement program."

Piper says it will announce the conclusion of the Altaire program review to employees and the industry as soon as possible. 

FMI: www.piper.com

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