Ayres launched the LM-200 Loadmaster in November 1996 with an order for 50 cargo versions from FedEx Express. Although FedEx subsequently ordered another 25 aircraft and held 275 options, the programme has faced a series of delays and problems, not least the bankruptcy of Ayres' Czech company Let and Ayres filing for bankruptcy protection in November. Let was to have assembled some aircraft and produced all wings and empennages.
FedEx's cancellation of its order effectively ends the programme.
Loadmaster would have been a novel aircraft with two LHTECCTP800s driving a single propeller through a combining gearbox. The high-wing aircraft was also offered in amphibian, a 19-seat passenger and mixed passenger/freight versions.
First flight had been due in July last year but this has continually slipped and would not have happened until eight months after Ayres emerged from Chapter 11. Earliest deliveries would not have been until early 2004 - five years late. Lessor GATX Capital, a major creditor, provided some funding and was helping the manufacturer seek new investors.
Source: Flight International