By Jessica Tuggle
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- After 75 years, Piper Aircraft is still building its customer base and creating new fans of its aircraft.
During the 75th anniversary celebration of Piper's beginnings earlier this month, administrators announced a partnership with the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne called the Piper Aviation Career Alliance.
The program will provide education and enhanced vocation opportunities for graduates of Florida Tech's aviation courses. The five-year agreement will include a fleet of Piper aircraft for training, Piper internships, career interviews and mentoring, a press release said.
Next year, the school's college of aeronautics will receive eight single-engine Piper Archer TX training planes. These planes will be among the first Piper training aircraft to be equipped with the Garmin G1000 glass panel avionics suite, an integrated flight instrument system.
"The G1000 will put a wealth of flight critical data at the fingertips of Seminole and Archer pilots," said Piper President and CEO Simon Caldecott.
In addition to the original eight aircraft, the agreement between Piper and Florida Tech includes options on 16 additional training aircraft, either more Archer TX or Piper Seminoles.
"Our new career alliance with Piper will help our graduates secure employment in the aviation industry in airplane operations, airport and airline management and as flight crew members in varied, responsible positions within corporate and commercial aviation and government agencies," said Kenneth Stackpoole, Florida Tech's vice president of aviation programs and dean, in a press release.
The school has 400 undergraduate and graduate students in its aviation programs in Melbourne, distance learning and its aeronautical science program in Panama.
The partnership will provide more pilots with exposure to Piper and its fleet of aircraft.