MD Helicopters continues to investigate the purchase of a very light jet maker as part of a near-term growth strategy that includes a larger production facility and other acquisitions to support or augment its line of five single- and twin-engine helicopters.

Chief executive Lynn Tilton, says MD's parent company, venture capital firm Patriarch Partners, had set out to "build a major aerospace portfolio".

The company will soon decide whether to build its broader presence at MD's 18.6Ha (46 acre) home in Mesa, Arizona, or whether to relocate to Florida, Oklahoma or Texas at a site encompassing at least 40.5Ha. Tilton says Patriarch was also negotiating to purchase an Italian composites manufacturer. "If we do buy a VLJ maker and a composite maker," she says, "we'll have the space to put it all together." MD plans to deliver more than 60 helicopters this year, up from 32 in 2007, and as many as 100 in 2009, according to Tilton.

A Patriarch spokeswoman confirmed to Flight on 14 April that negotiations are ongoing, but she would not comment on which VLJ company or companies are being considered. Of the two most obvious composite-made candidates - Adam Aircraft and ATG - only ATG remains on the market. Adam, builder of the A700 VLJ, was purchased earlier this month for $10 million by a private equity company.

ATG, maker of the two-seat composite Javelin high-performance Williams FJ-33-powered twinjet, suspended operations in December. "The efforts of the board are now focused on negotiations, with interested parties pursuing a possible sale or a majority buyout of ATG," the company says.

 © ATG