GRAHAM WARWICK / WASHINGTON DC
Following Mooney purchase, company eyes Century Jet project and plans name change to Mooney Aerospace Group
Advanced Aerodynamics & Structures (AASI) has set its sights on Century Aerospace's dormant CA-100 entry-level business jet project after acquiring bankrupt piston-single manufacturer Mooney Aircraft. The Mooney and possible Century Jet acquisitions are part of a strategy to transform AASI into a leading general aviation manufacturer being pursued by a recently appointed management team headed by Roy Norris, a former president of Raytheon Aircraft.
A US bankruptcy court approved AASI's acquisition of Mooney's assets on 18 March. Mooney filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and ceased production last July. AASI has been operating Mooney with the court's approval since 6 February, when it acquired all $14 million of the manufacturer's secured debt from lender Congress Financial. AASI says existing investors agreed to finance the Mooney acquisition.
AASI plans to change its name to Mooney Aerospace Group and operate the piston-single manufacturer as wholly owned subsidiary Mooney Airplane. AASI hopes to complete the first of 21 partially built Mooney aircraft in the third quarter. Mooney's piston singles include the Bravo, Eagle 2 and Ovation 2.
AASI has also completed an initial review of the single-turboprop JetCruzer, which it has been developing since 1990, and says an 18-month redesign will be requiredto reduce weight and cost and make the aircraft compatible with the Mooney line. Certification would take a further 12 months. Despite spending $100 million so far, AASI still needs more money to complete certification.
Meanwhile, talks have begun on acquiring the rights to the twin-turbofan Century Jet, which remains in the design stage. Additional acquisitions continue to be pursued, says Norris. All aircraft manufacturing will take place at Mooney's Kerrville, Texas, factory, while AASI's Long Beach, California, facility will be turned into a Mooney service centre.
Source: Flight International