On the opening day of Sun ‘n Fun, Piper Aircraft announced the addition of a new, low-cost training aircraft to its fleet. The Pilot 100, equipped for VFR flying, is offered at $259,000 (USD), roughly $100,000 below the Piper Archer, which is also marketed as a trainer. An IFR-certified version, the Pilot 100i, is available for an additional $26,000.

The Pilot 100 is a derivative of the legendary Piper PA-28 line of aircraft, which began life as the Cherokee back in the 1960s. As a PA-28 derivative, Piper avoids the need for a new aircraft certification process, thereby keeping costs down.

“With the unprecedented demand for professional pilots, our team worked closely with several key suppliers to deliver an aggressively priced, proven trainer that offers the advanced systems and performance that flight schools and airline programs of all sizes desire,” said Simon Caldecott, Piper’s president and CEO. “We are excited to add the Pilot 100 series to our training product line at a price point that provides optimal economics for all operators.”

Standard instrumentation includes the Garmin G3X system, which Piper says offers all the advantages of a glass cockpit without the costs.

In an interesting departure from its PA-28 heritage, the Piper 100 comes with a 180-hp Continental Prime IO-370-D3A engine instead of a Lycoming. Continental Aerospace Technologies, as the engine manufacturer is now known, is owned by Textron, the company that also owns Piper arch-rival Cessna.

The Pilot 100 is designed to not compete with Piper’s Archer as a personal aircraft. In its basic configuration, the Pilot 100 is only a two-seater. An optional third seat, designed for optimal use of the aircraft by flight schools that wish to include an additional student in a rear seat as an observer during training flights is available (for an additional $9,500 (which also comes with an additional remote Bluetooth audio panel).

Also announced on Tuesday was the sale of up to 240 Piper aircraft options to L3 Commercial Aviation, which will be based in L3 academies located in Florida, Ponte de Sor, Portugal and in the U.K. Nineteen single-engine Piper Archers and seven twin-engine Piper Seminoles will be delivered to L3 this year.