Diamond has suspended development of its D-jet personal jet and temporarily laid off 213 employees at its London Ontario facility. “We are disappointed and frustrated in the extreme to have to take this drastic action,” says Diamond president Peter Maurer. We had deferred this action as long as possible, while awaiting a positive response to our request for a federal government loan. To date we have not received any formal response from the government, neither negative nor positive and as such we regrettably have no choice at this time but to take this action to reduce our operating expenses.”
Maurer continues: “We are hopeful that the government will give this matter urgent attention and provide the requested assistance, following which we would immediately bring back our furloughed employees.”
The requested federal government loan of $ 35million is to be progressively disbursed over 18 months, says Diamond, and is especially critical to the airframer “as it triggers a matching funding commitment offered by the l provincial government, as well as a private investment commitment. “In combination, these would complete the funding to see the D-JET programme through to certification and customer deliveries,” says Diamond.
The D-Jet was launched to great fanfare in 2003 and marked the Austria-headquartered general aviation aircraft manufacturer's foray into the business jet arena. The five-seater aircraft was designed to fill a gap in the jet market that would appeal to the growing number of owner pilots seeking a low-cost, high-speed, versatile aircraft with the capacity to operate from many airports.
However, this target market was severely hit by the financial downturn as orderbooks for aircraft at the lower end of the business aircraft spectrum were ravaged. The D-Jet certification programme also experienced numerous setbacks because of funding and design issues, including changing the de-icing system and replacing the aircraft's original Williams FJ33-15 powerplant with the more powerful FJ33-5A.
The programme is based at Diamond's site in London, Ontario where the two flight-test aircraft chalked up about 700 flight hours. Certification and service entry of the D-Jet was originally scheduled for 2006.