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Thu, Jul 31, 2003

Piper's 6X Gets TC

Factory of the Future Begets First Type Certificate

It wasn't long ago that New Piper called a meeting to come up with a 'What are people asking for, the most?' kind of meeting. For years, it seems, dealers had been getting asked for something that would replace the beloved, but aging, Cherokee Sixes that made such fine 'family wagons.'

The Lance, and later the Saratoga and other variants of the PA-32 design had hauled the freight, but the retractables were more-expensive, more-complex... and there was that 'insurance thing' that stared lower-time pilots in the face.

Hey! How about a modern Cherokee Six?

A modern, reasonably-priced, 6-place airplane, with good range and a rugged heritage -- a modern Cherokee Six. Like the transparent plot of a television special, the parts lined up: "We have the technology to make a really nice PA-32," said one. From the shiny-floored factory came another voice: "Yeah -- and our Factory of the Future is ready to show its stuff."

So... that was January. To the CAD stations, and into the parts bins, and off to that new factory... "By February, we were flying," said John Gallo, New Piper's Vice President, Product Operations, to our group of reporters at Oshkosh.

In April, we at ANN showed you the 6X: the Cherokee Six, as a modern company would build it, with modern technology, and air conditioning.

Now, in July, Piper has hit another milestone in the 6X program: the Type Certificate for the PA-32-301FT has been awarded. Seven months -- not quite even seven months -- from concept to TC. Maybe there's something to that 'Factory of the Future' thing, eh?

Customer deliveries are slated to begin in September.

FMI: www.newpiper.com

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