The Grob SPn has been thrown a lifeline following a surprising move by the company's lead creditor to acquire the light business jet from the company's administrator as part of the assets of Grob Aerospace.
The core business of the Zurich, Switzerland-headquartered company - the production and maintenance of light training aircraft - has been snapped up, as expected, by Germany's H3, which will run the operation from 1 February under the trade name Grob Aircraft.
"For now [H3] will continue the former core business, which is the production and the maintenance of the light training aircraft," says the administrator Michael Jaffe. "This is how we can save [Grob's manufacturing and assembly base in] Tussenhausen-Mattsies as a basis for aircraft production and thus save the Grob know-how, which has been developed over decades and save about 100 jobs - but there is a clear option for further growth," he says.
Grob was forced to file for insolvency in Germany last August after the company's loan provider withdrew its backing. He blamed delays in the SPn programme - including the fatal crash in November 2006 of the second prototype - that had resulted in the increased requirement for cash to see the programme through to certification. The fourth test aircraft had made a successful maiden flight earlier that month and certification was earmarked for the end of 2008.
Although details about the SPn's future remain sketchy, a source close Grob say the creditor is seeking additional investors to take the aircraft through to certification and first deliveries, "While it looks for investors the creditor may decide to put its hand in its pocket to get the aircraft flying again," it says. The creditor has also reached an agreement with H3 to base production and development in Tussenhausen-Mattsies.