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Skyborne/Piper partnership hits new heights with $8M deal

STORY BY RAY MCNULTY (Week of March 21, 2024)

Two of Vero Beach Regional Airport’s most recognized tenants seem to enjoy working together – and, it appears, for the betterment of both.

Skyborne Airline Academy recently signed an $8 million contract to purchase 20 new Pilot 100i trainer airplanes from Piper Aircraft as the United Kingdom-based flight school again expands its fleet on its campus here.

According to a joint announcement, Piper is scheduled to deliver the additional aircraft to Skyborne throughout this year and beyond.

The purchase follows an initial order of 11 new Pilot 100i aircraft, which were delivered in November as part of a multi-year agreement between the companies.

“Our top priority is to provide industry-leading equipment to support students through their pilot training,” said Dan Peterson, managing director of Skyborne’s Vero Beach operations. “By expanding our Pilot 100i order, we’re investing in aircraft we trust to be safe, professional and reliable as we grow for the future.”

He said the Pilot 100i aircraft is “central to delivering world-class pilots for our airline partners.”

With state-of-the-art technology and equipment, the Pilot 100i operates with a full Garmin suite of avionics, including the G3X touch system, which provides altitude and directional guidance along with electronic engine gauges, terrain and obstacle alerting, and SafeTaxi airport diagrams. The system also includes auto-pilot capabilities.

Both Skyborne Chief Executive Officer Lee Woodward and Piper Vice President of Sales Ron Gunnarson said they were eager to continue the budding business relationship between the flight academy and aircraft manufacturer.

“Over the last three years, Skyborne’s U.S. footprint has grown exponentially as demand for airline-focused pilot training continues to rise,” Woodward said. “A partner and ally from the beginning, Piper has been crucial to helping us meet this need.

“We’re proud to be supporting a Florida-based company that aligns with our values of trust and quality, and we look forward to seeing our all-Piper fleet expand to more than 80 aircraft.”

Said Gunnarson: “We’re thrilled to support this additional order from our neighbors here in Vero Beach, and it’s a privilege to have them as a Piper Flight School Alliance member.

“We look forward to being a part of Skyborne’s growth in our community by providing them with top-of-the-line trainers that are reliable and cost-effective.”

Skyborne, which was founded at the Gloucester Airport in the United Kingdom in 2018, quickly earned an international reputation as one of the most-respected commercial-pilot training schools in the industry.

Skyborne purchased Flight Safety Academy in Vero Beach in May 2021.