Purchase means SP26 production restart while Lake amphibian work moves to Florida

Production of the SP26 aerobatic two-seater is to resume following the purchase of Micco Aircraft by LanShe Aerospace, which last September acquired seaplane producer Lake Aircraft. Manufacture of Lake amphibians is being relocated from Maine to the Micco factory at Fort Pierce in Florida.

LanShe president and controlling interest holder Wadi Rahim plans to be producing 20 aircraft a year, a mix of Lakes and Miccos, within three years. A Seawolf special mission amphibian is being completed at Fort Pierce for delivery to the US Department of Interior in July. The aircraft will be donated to Ecuador and used for maritime patrol in the Galapagos Islands, he says.

Micco halted production last year when its owners, the Seminole tribe of Florida, decided to leave the market. LanShe plans to restart production of the aerobatic SP26, but would build the less-powerful SP20 to order, Rahim says.

Rahim's purchases come at a time of slumping sales for US piston-single manufacturers. Commander Aircraft halted production of the four-seat Commander 115 after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December. The company, which is seeking $4 million to restart the line, can break even building 10-12 aircraft, says chairman Wirt Walker.

New Piper eliminated an additional 150 jobs last month, its second cut this year, with production likely to be below last year's reduced total of 290 aircraft. The workforce now stands at 680, down from around 1,600 in mid-2001. Cessna, which has cut employment at its single-engine plant to 450 from over 1,000 in mid-2001, expects deliveries to be below last year's total of 559.

There are pockets of resistance to the downturn. Lancair is resuming deliveries of its Columbia all-composite four-seater this month after arranging $55 million in funding from its original Malaysian investor. The company has outstanding orders of 173 Columbia 300s, 350s and 400s, says president Bing Lantis.

Mooney restarted production last month after selling the 21 aircraft in progress when the company was rescued from Chapter 11 early last year. The company has a backlog of 14 orders and plans to build 70 aircraft this year, says president Nelson Happy.

Source: Flight International