Lake Aircraft parent company Revo has again put all the airframer's assets up for sale, hoping to find a buyer that can restart production of its line of single-engined amphibian aircraft and potentially fund development of a new turbine-powered derivative.
The move comes around two months after a Chinese consortium withdrew its offer for the Kissimmee, Florida-headquartered company. "They were unable to complete the transaction due to China’s foreign exchange controls, which restrict the buyer from exporting dollars from China to the USA," says Revo founder and president Armand Rivard.
The buyers signed a purchase agreement for Lake in 2015, and were planning to restart production in the USA, and build a parallel assembly line in China, when the deal fell through, he notes.
Rivard describes their withdrawal as “a major blow” for the company. “These guys were really sincere, and this hasn’t always been the case for us,” he adds, pointing to Revo’s difficulties in divesting Lake over the last 17 years.
In 2001, a deal with Archedyne Aerospace foundered, a year later, Revo sold Lake to LanShe Aerospace but took the company back after payments failed to materialise, and in 2008, another deal fell through when the buyer failed to secure financing.
Lake produced seven versions of its light, piston-powered amphibian between 1955 and 2012, including the six-seat Renegade, Seafury and Seawolf. “It is still the only US [Federal Aviation Regulation] Part 23-certificated, single-engined amphibious aircraft series in the world,” says Rivard.
Over 1,300 examples are in service worldwide today in commercial, corporate, private, utility and special mission roles, according to 84-year-old Rivard, who acquired Lake in the early 1970s.
He describes the aircraft as “one of a kind”, saying “I don’t think you’ll see another small amphibian aircraft again, because the cost of entry is so great."
Revo continues to support the worldwide fleet with a staff of four overseeing an exclusive spare-parts business. “It’s time to see if there’s another buyer out there to resurrect production,” says Rivard.
The sale includes all of Lake's assets, including the lucrative spare parts concern, engineering drawings, production and type certificates.
Revo holds one type certificate and several supplemental type certificates, which were gained as the aircraft was upgraded over the years with more powerful engines.
In addition, Revo has a design for a turbine-powered derivative. Although the details are being kept under wraps, Rivard says it would not require too much investment to bring the new aircraft to the market, but that will be up to the new owner.
“A turbine variant is a natural evolution of the aircraft, and that’s what customers want today, not least because of the widespread availability of jet fuel,” he adds.
Source: Flight International