February 10, 2014
By Dan Namowitz
High performance single-engine airplane maker Mooney will resume building new aircraft Feb. 26 at its Kerrville, Texas, factory, ending a five-year absence from production.
The first model to come off the line in 2014 will be the M20TH Acclaim Type S, powered by a TSIO-550-G-turbonormalized engine and including an upgraded Garmin G1000 Integrated Avionics Suite.
In a Feb. 7 news release, Mooney International Corp. revealed its strategic plan, noting that its new leadership is investing in capabilities that emphasize "a strong evolution toward building a more technologically based manufacturing facility." There are 55 workers employed at the Kerrville plant, with “more to follow,” the company said.
"This is an important date in the history of Mooney," said Mooney CEO Jerry Chen. "There has been an extraordinary effort on the part of everyone at Mooney and I couldn’t be more proud of what has been accomplished in a short amount of time."
In addition to the Acclaim line, the company sells Mooney Ovation 2GX and Ovation3 airplanes, according to the company website.
Last October, AOPA reported Mooney’s announcement of its intent to restart production in 2014. During Mooney’s absence from production under soft economic conditions, the company continued to provide product support to an existing customer base estimated at 7,800 owners in the United States and 1,000 more overseas.
AOPA’s Oct. 11, 2013, Reporting Points blog added that Mooney’s re-emergence was capitalized by funding from California-based Soaring America Corp. Chen is listed as Soaring America’s CEO, according to his biography on a business networking website.
In its latest announcement, Mooney said that an owner group, the Mooney Airplane Pilots Association, will hold its annual homecoming convention in Kerrville April 10 to 13 to celebrate the company’s comeback.
Owners "are anxious to personally meet Dr. Chen and hear about the future of the company," said Trey Hughes, Mooney Airplane Pilots Association’s president. Mooney’s announcement also cited "a groundswell of demand" for company products identified by Premier Aircraft Sales President Fred Ahles.
Mooney will provide public tours of the plant during the owners group’s event.
The Mooney Airplane Co. was founded by Al Mooney in Wichita, Kan., in 1929. Mooney moved its headquarters to Kerrville in 1953.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
AOPA expressed concern in a meeting with town officials from East Hampton, New York, that restrictions proposed to curb airport noise “overwhelmingly” generated by transient commercial flights would unfairly burden traditional airport users.
The FAA on Feb. 23 issued a special airworthiness information bulletin recommending preflight inspection of Robinson R44 and R44 II main rotors.
AOPA told lawmakers that a tax-abatement bill introduced in Nevada would stimulate aviation business and make more services available to members.
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