China’s Wanfeng Aviation has acquired Diamond Aircraft Group, the Austrian-headquartered parent company of one of Europe's largest general aviation aircraft manufacturers, Diamond Aircraft Industries, and its Canada-based sister.
The purchase, which also includes the company's Austro Engine division, comes a year after the Wanfeng Auto Holding subsidiary acquired a 60% stake in the Canadian operation, and is intended to assure the company's "continued long-term future".
Diamond was created in 1996 as a rebrand of Austria's HOAC. The motorglider developer had been acquired five years earlier by outgoing chief executive Christian Dries and his family, which set about turning the small company into a major developer of propeller-driven aircraft.
More than 15 models and derivatives have been produced by the Wiener Neustadt-headquartered airframer to date, including the two-seat DA20 Katana and four-seat DA40 piston singles; the DA42 and DA62 piston-twins and the short-lived D-JET single-engined personal jet.
Dries describes Diamond as "my life's work", adding that "the right partner" needed to be found in order to secure its longevity.
"Wanfeng and specifically [chairman] Mr Bin Chen share my vision of the future of general aviation," Dries notes. He says it is "investing for the right reasons, with a long-term strategy and the resources to see its vision through. I look forward to seeing Diamond develop further, and based on our successful year-long partnership in Diamond Canada, I am fully satisfied that I leave Diamond in very good hands."
Under Wanfeng’s ownership, work will continue on Diamond’s latest models, including the in-development Dart 450 turboprop trainer, which is scheduled to enter service this year, and the DA50 family of diesel-fuelled light aircraft.
Chen says the Diamond team "has developed a broad range of superb aircraft that have gained worldwide respect for their performance, efficiency, safety, and innovation. Based on this excellent foundation, we intend to take Diamond to a long-term leadership position in worldwide general aviation".