Piper Aircraft Forms Manufacturing Subsidiary PIMCO

Vero Beach, Florida-based Piper Aircraft is opening up a new parts and services business.

Credit: Piper Aircraft

OSHKOSH—Piper Aircraft, based in Vero Beach, Florida, has formed a subsidiary called Piper Industrial Manufacturing Co. (PIMCO), to provide parts and services to new outside customers.

Over the past four years, Piper has invested $30 million in production improvements and in machinery, tooling and technology, including robotic riveting and 3D-printing equipment, Ron Gunnarson, Piper Aircraft vice president of sales, marketing and customer support, says during a media briefing at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh.

“These investments are the key to many things like improved product quality, employee well-being, enterprise productivity and long-term value for our company,” Gunnarson says. “They also allow us to diversify in what we all know is a very challenging but fun—almost addictive this industry is—but it’s a cyclical business we’re in.”

Thus, Piper’s new business entity will expand its business into new and adjacent markets, such as contract manufacturing, aerostructures and project services. Initially, it will specialize in sheet metal fabrication, CNC machining, hydro- and stretch-forming and tube bending and cutting. It also will offer laser cutting, fluid cell forming, welding and 3D printing.

Piper unveiled the PIMCO logo during EAA AirVenture 2023. Credit: Piper Aircraft

“To support this effort, we’re also adapting our own existing quality management system and pursuing AS9100 certification,” he says.

Piper is currently running small jobs through the factory to learn “where our muscles are and where they’re not,” Gunnarson continues. It is performing work doing laser-cutting and 3D printing for a customer.

Piper has operated as one of the most vertically integrated original equipment manufacturers in aviation, Gunnarson says. Its production facility is busy today with more aircraft orders than it can produce, he reports.

“But we all know the cyclical nature of this industry,” Gunnarson says. “And after those investments, to be able to be suppliers for other aerospace companies …, it’s a nice place to have that.”

Piper does not have a lot of excess machine capacity today, but “if and when a downturn does come, we’ve got the latest and greatest equipment. We’ve been bending metal and welding metal for 86 years,” Gunnarson says. “So, nobody knows it better.”

Molly McMillin

Molly McMillin, a 25-year aviation journalist, is managing editor of business aviation for the Aviation Week Network and editor-in-chief of The Weekly of Business Aviation, an Aviation Week market intelligence report.