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Lake Aircraft looks for new owners

Lake Aircraft parent company Revo has again put all its assets up for sale, hoping to find a buyer which can restart production of its line of single-engine amphibian aircraft and potentially fund development of a new turbine-powered derivative.

Lake has been producing light piston-powered amphibians since 1948 and the company has been owned by Armand Rivard, through parent company Revo, since the early 1970s. There are now about 1,300 Lake aircraft flying, including roughly 500 outside the US.

Florida-based Revo continues to support the worldwide fleet with a staff of four overseeing an exclusive spare parts business. But production, which reached a peak of 100 annually in the early 1980s, has dwindled in recent years to just one or two aircraft annually. “It’s time to see if there’s a buyer out there to bring it back to production,” says Rivard, who is now in his mid 70s.

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Rivard acknowledges “the timing is pretty bad” given the economy but says there is strong interest from overseas, in particular the Middle East. Rivard has already fielded several inquiries from the Middle East since he announced a few days ago that Revo’s assets were for sale. He says he hasn’t decided on a price and is flexible on how to structure the deal.
 
Rivard has a chequered history of trying to sell the company. In 2001 a deal to sell the company to Archedyne Aerospace collapsed. Rivard completed a deal in 2002 with Wadi Rahim and LanShe Aerosapce but took the company back after LanShe failed to make a single instalment. In 2005 Rivard unsuccessfully tried to auction off all the assets at Oshkosh. “The auction was a great idea but no one showed up and no one made a bid. We won’t try that again,” he says.

He says another deal to sell the assets fell through late last year when, after 14 months of negotiations, the buyer failed to secure financing. “A company like mine is tough to finance, especially with what’s happening in the industry with companies such as Adam and Eclipse. But on the other hand it takes so much money to certify a plane these days,” Rivard says.

But he adds there remains strong interest in the Lake family of aircraft, which over the last two decades has primarily consisted of sales of the Renegade, and blames the dwindling sales to the fact he has not actively promoted his aircraft. “It’s still one of a kind. I don’t think you’ll see another small amphibian aircraft again because the cost of entry is so great,” he says.

Rivard believes Revo’s most valuable asset is the type certificate. 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. The newest variant, the 290-hp Seawolf, was designed for special missions, with the most recent aircraft delivered two years ago to two South American government operators.

Revo also completed last year a design for a turbine-powered aircraft which most likely would be outfitted with an Allison engine. Rivard says it wouldn’t require too much investment to bring the new aircraft to fruition but that will be up to the new owner. “Installation of a turbine is quite easy because the centre of gravity is over the main wing and gear and that is where the engine is,” he says.

While Rivard plans to sell all the assets, including the lucrative spare parts business, engineering drawings and production certificates, his son Bruce Rivard plans to keep his New Hampshire-based marketing business Team Lake. Team Lake has sold most of the new aircraft Revo has built over the last several years and hopes to continue to sell the aircraft under the new owner.

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