Dubai-based investment firm Medrar Financial Group has purchased a majority stake in the Canadian arm of Diamond Aircraft, producer of the all-composite Diamond DA20, DA40, DA42 and DA50 propeller-driven, piston-powered aircraft.
Announced at the Dubai Air Show on 13 November, the agreement also includes Diamond's D-Jet development programme, a single-engine five-seat personal jet project launched in 2003.
Medrar was not connected with a round of financing Diamond had obtained in June to allow the then-dormant D-Jet programme to restart after government funding did not materialize, says Diamond president Peter Maurer. With that funding, from unnamed sources, the company in September resumed flight tests with two prototype aircraft while finalizing design work on the first production conforming D-Jet. Maurer says the Medrar financing will "allow us to accelerate" D-Jet development.
"The current state of the economy highlights the need and potential for aircraft like the D-Jet," said Jamil Marmarchi, chief executive of Medrar. "We are excited not only by the D-Jet but also by derivative models to follow."
That sentiment is not shared by some others, including Brunei-backed Piper Aircraft, which recently shelved its single-engine Altaire jet programme due to what it considered a poor economic outlook in the sector for its desired return on investment.
"We are equally bullish about the future potential of piston aircraft, especially in support of professional flight training, were we expect international pilot demands to drive a sustainable market for training aircraft in the long and maintain our leadership position," Marmarchi says.
Medrar's investment comes at a time when worldwide piston deliveries appear to have bottomed out and are on the mend. According to General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) statistics, Diamond delivered 132 aircraft in the first three quarters of 2011, up from the 129 shipped in all of 2010. At its peak in 2007, Diamond had delivered 471 aircraft, according to GAMA.