Germany's Remos Aircraft has lined up a new investor to help fund a major expansion in the US that will include 150 pilot centres and a new Florida completion centre.

Remos announced at AirVenture 2009 in Oshkosh that UK investment firm Pall Mall Partners has acquired an undisclosed stake in the manufacturer. Remos, which is based in Germany and has a completion facility in Arkansas, will use the capital infusion to help it further grow its already leading presence in the US light sport aircraft (LSA) market.

Remos chief executive Corvin Huber says it is already the largest manufacturer in the US LSA market based on number of aircraft shipped per quarter but acknowledges "this is hard times and those are low numbers". Remos plans to deliver 75 to 80 two-seat sport aircraft this year.

Currently the US only accounts for about half of Remos' deliveries but Huber expects the US account for 75% to 80% of deliveries within the next few years. He says the growth in the US will be driven by the establishment of 150 Remos Pilot Centres throughout the US. The pilot centres, which are being established in partnership with local flight schools who will receive special financing to help them pay for Remos GXs, are projected to receive 300 aircraft over the next five years.

Huber says the first 20 centres will open later this year with 50 to follow in 2010 and 80 in 2011. Overall Huber expects flight schools will account for about one third of Remos' total deliveries, compared to only 10% currently.

Huber says the centres will help "get the word out that light sport training is available throughout the nation". He says the centres will be supplemented by a broader consumer marketing campaign being initiated with the help of Pall Mall, which already has a marketing firm in its portfolio.

Remos' new business plan also envisions opening "Remos Experience Centres" throughout the US. Huber says the concept for these centres is still being developed but the idea is to offer various "soft products" including maintenance services, hangars for storing aircraft and insurance.

The first batch of three to five experience centres are scheduled to be opened in late 2009 on a trial basis and will become operational in 2010. "You're looking at a fairly ambitious programme," Huber says.

Remos now completes US aircraft at a facility in Arkansas that doubles as its US headquarters. But Huber says this will move to an experience centre Remos plans to open in Florida. Remos is also looking at initially opening experience centres in Texas and California.

Remos delivered about 80 aircraft last year and was originally hoping to deliver about 120 aircraft in 2009. "We're pretty happy to hold steady [at 80 aircraft this year]. Everyone else is down 20%, 30% or 40%," Huber says.

He describes the market today as "somewhere between super soft and soft" and acknowledges "quarter two was almost a wipe out". To date it has delivered about 330 GX and G3s two-seater carbon fibre aircraft. The GX was introduced last year, replacing the G3. Huber says it is now working on a series of "ongoing improvements" which include upgrades as well as potential new models.

Remos now has 15 dealers in the US while sales in Europe are factory-direct except for the UK, Switzerland and Austria. Huber says it plans to grow its base of international dealers, which now only include Iran and Brazil. "There are more [dealers] coming," he says. "There's huge potential but it's more piecemeal so we're now focusing on the US."

Source: Flight International