Struggling Mooney Aviation has been a thrown a lifeline by California-based investment firm Soaring America, nearly five years after the financial crash forced the US airframer and maintenance company to cease manufacturing its high-performance piston-single line.
Soaring has injected an undisclosed amount into the 80-year-old company, which will be used to restart production of the Acclaim Type S and Ovation 2 and 3 piston-singles from January next year.
This announcement comes less than a week after Chinese news outlets reported that Zhengzhou-based real estate development company Meijing Group had agreed to acquire the US airframer.
It’s unclear whether Meijing is related to Soaring in any way and Mooney says it “will not comment on the deal structure or disclose financial details.”
Mooney’s chief financial officer, Barry Hodkin says, however, Soaring is committed to the company's future. "It's a new day for Mooney. It’s been a long time coming and we couldn’t be more excited about our return to manufacturing,” he adds.
Mooney had delivered over 11,000 light general aviation aircraft before the Kerrville, Texas assembly line fell dormant in 2008. That year, Mooney shipped 21 Ovations and 44 Acclaims, according to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. Records show 21 remaining unsold aircraft were delivered over the following two years. After production was halted Mooney remained in business, providing aftermarket support for its global in-service fleet.
The airframer says its first task is to hire and train a new workforce and re-establish the supply chain. Mooney expects to recruit up to 100 people within the first year of operation, including technicians, engineers, line workers, accounting and sales staff. “Within two years we anticipate employing significantly more people, depending on the demand for our products. [But] given more positive economic indicators and the unique market niche for Mooney airplanes, we [are] confident about a [sustained] future in the industry," it says.
Mooney is planning to install a number of technological enhancements into the Acclaim and Ovation in an effort to boost their appeal within the increasingly crowded general aviation sector, which is dominated by types such as the Cirrus SR22. The first aircraft is scheduled to roll off the production line in the third quarter of this year.