Kate Sarsfield/LONDON


Two US amphibious aircraft companies, Lake Aircraft and Archedyne Aerospace, have agreed to merge to secure financial investment and manufacturing expertise for their existing and planned product lines. The new company will be called Lake Aerospace.

Amphibious aircraft manufacturing stalwart Lake, which builds the Seawolf, Renegade and Seafury multimission piston singles, and fledgling amphibian designer Archedyne, which is developing the NauticAir 450 amphibious business jet, plan to complete the merger by the end of the year. They will kick-start a global marketing campaign from their Florida base in a bid to stimulate orders.

They intend to set up a network of international dealerships, implement a fractional ownership programme - initially aimed at the US market - and develop a family of amphibious aircraft.

"The combined companies will provide technology, marketing, development resources and a financial infusion to invest in future models, including a turboprop amphibian," says Archedyne chief executive Dr Leonard Gioia.

The partners are seeking a new manufacturing site in Florida to house the anticipated increase in demand. "There are around 1,200 Lake amphibians in operation," adds Gioia. "Within 10 years, we expect more than double that number will be flying."

Development of the $5 million twin-engined NauticAir 450, formerly the Amjet 400, has been put on hold until the merger is complete. The first proof-of-concept aircraft will be built next year. Certification and first deliveries of the eight-seat Williams FJX-2-powered aircraft are due in 2004.

Source: Flight International