KATE SARSFIELD / LONDON Troubled manufacturer could be helped out of Chapter 11 if investment group provides funding for Vantage programme

VisionAire must secure around $120 million investment within a month to fund development of its Vantage single-engined business jet and stave off liquidation.

"We are holding on-going discussions with a Europe-based investment syndicate and are cautiously optimistic we can move forward with the programme," says VisionAire's vice-president of communication Mark Jones.

The Chesterfield, Missouri-based manufacturer moved into voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month, on the order of a US court and has until early next month to prove financial solvency. This followed the filing of a petition in July from five "dissident" creditors, to force the company into involuntary Chapter 7 liquidation.

"This move would have benefited nobody," says Jones. "With Chapter 11, the court has given us time to continue operating while we reorganise our finances. The syndicate has already issued a letter of intent to the court, essentially expressing formal interest in funding the programme," he adds.

Jones admits if the investor pulls out, the company may have to move into voluntary liquidation, where the assets will be sold, the company liquidated, and a new group of investors sought. "We are hopeful we can move forward [with the proposed funding] and once we get the go-ahead we are well-positioned to complete the Vantage certification programme within 28 to 30 months," Jones says. Vantage programme manager Del Potts adds: "Our subcontractor, Israel Aircraft Industries, has validated the aircraft's design and we have been working behind the scenes on the project so we can accelerate development when the time comes."

VisionAire says it has around 60 firm orders for the all-composite single-engine Vantage, against an orderbook of 150 aircraft at its peak.

Source: Flight International