ANN Is There For A New Page In Piper History
There's a pretty
positive vibe evident in Vero Beach these days... one that's been
missing for a while. It hit a recent high with the delivery of not
just one but two "new" birds at the Piper plant in Vero Beach...
the home to a leaner, meaner New Piper Aircraft. Among the two
deliveries (one to a dealer) New Piper made its first customer
delivery of the all new Piper 6XT model at its manufacturing
facility here -- to a guy that should be writing New Piper PR
copy -- because he sure seems to be living it.
Already a Piper Dakota owner/pilot, a new Piper 6XT is now the
newest family member for Ajai and Jackie Sehgal (below with Piper's
Chuck Suma, handing over the keys) of Woodinville, WA. Ajai Sehgal,
the pilot in the family (though Ajai proudly notes that one of his
kids may eventually wind up giving him some competition in that
department... and his brother already is), owns a Piper Dakota,
which may eventually wind up in his brother's possession (though if
that falls through, several ANN staffers wish it known that they
are available for immediate adoption...). A retired Canadian Air
Force officer and now an engineer/astronomer, Sehgal sees the 6XT
as "perfect" for flights to observatories in Portal, AZ,
Woodinville, WA, and Osoyoos, BC.
"It was the plane that I was waiting for." said Mr. Sehgal, "The
Dakota is great, but not big. I kept saying what I need is a
turbocharged six-place Dakota. The payload capacity of the 6XT
gives me the ability to get my wife, Jackie, and me to the
observatories with all the required instrumentation and tools to
keep things running. Moreover, with three kids and a dog, our
typical usage will be loading up the plane with weekend gear for
the one-hour flight to our summer home in the Okanogan Valley of
British Columbia." Sehgal revealed that the family 6XT has already
has had a DVD player installed if the beautiful scenery of the west
ever fails to impress his youngsters.
Sehgal told ANN that the 6XT purchase was strongly promulgated
by his growing distaste for the hassles of airline travel, "Why
would I (willingly) go through the hassle of Airport Security?"
Sehgal noted that the aircraft was going to be flown heavily for
both business and family missions and the first time Ajai's wife
looked at the cavernous interior of the 6X pronounced that it
"looked like the Expedition (SUV)." A 300 hour pilot, Ajai sees
himself as the perfect target for 6X and 6XT marketing. "It does
the two things I need it to do better than anything else... it
gives me payload and speed -- it's a Dakota with Six seats -- they
finally got it right." Sehgal's needs are simple, he's working on
his IFR ticket, doesn't want the expense, hassle or insurance
issues/expense associated with an RG and the premium IFR package
(with a Garmin 530, a 430 and an optional 330 TXP for MOde S
traffic watch near busy Seattle airspace) gets him everywhere he
wants to go... for now. His 6XT is one of some 20-24 that will
depart Vero Beach this year with 40-45 to follow in 2004.
"The Piper 6XT is an aircraft we took from concept through
certification and now to delivery in record time," said New Piper
President and CEO Chuck Suma. "The design and development of this
aircraft is a prime example of how the spirit and dedication of the
team, coupled with the processes and systems inherent in Piper's
Factory of the Future, are redefining aircraft manufacturing."
The 6XT achieved FAA certification on September 9, 2003, a mere
seven months after the design and development process began. Piper
touts this speedy program as "particularly remarkable coming on the
heels of the FAA certification," in July 2003, of the 6X - its
normally aspirated equivalent - which achieved certification in a
record six months.
The Piper 6XT is a turbocharged fixed-gear version of the
popular six-place Saratoga II aircraft. The Piper 6X is its
normally aspirated equivalent. Both aircraft represent excellent
value and top-notch performance at an extremely competitive price.
The Piper 6XT comfortably seats six people in a club-arrangement.
The rear seats are equipped with a quick-release mechanism to allow
their removal, leaving seating for four with increased load
carrying capacity. And let us remond you, fill all the tanks and
you STILL have as much as 828 pounds of payload left with which
to levitate your friends and family.
"Pilots are looking for a high-utility airplane with terrific
value," Suma said, "and these new aircraft provide uncompromised
performance at boldly competitive prices. It is another example of
how New Piper - even in the face of a very tough economy -
continues to pursue new technology, innovation and new product