A new investor from China will own 60 percent of Diamond Aircraft Industries Inc., based in Canada, and the transaction detailed in a Dec. 20 letter to owners and distributors will transfer production of some existing models in the Diamond line from Diamond Aircraft Industries GmbH, of Austria, to the firm in Canada; both firms will continue to produce airplanes under the Diamond Aircraft brand.
The deal will see Frank Chen of Wanfeng companies, a conglomerate with holdings in the automotive industry in both Canada and China, appointed chairman of Diamond Aircraft Industries Inc. (Canada). Diamond Aircraft Industries GmbH in Austria will remain “completely independent and will assist production and development activities in the Canadian company,” according to the Dec. 20 letter to owners and distributors provided by the company in response to an inquiry from AOPA about the deal, announced in three paragraphs posted online Dec. 19.
The four-seat, twin-engine DA42 will continue to be produced in Austria, along with future models in that line. Production of the four-seat, single-engine DA40 will transfer to Canada by the end of 2017, the letter states. Diamond Canada will continue to produce the two-seat DA20, the DA40, and the DA62 models “indefinitely.” Type design responsibility for the DA40 and DA62 models (current and legacy) will transfer from Diamond Austria to Diamond Canada in 2017 as well. Diamond models made in China under production license are not affected by the transaction.
The letter noted that Diamond Austria will continue development of turboprop models including the DART-450 two-seat aerobatic trainer made for civilian and military training, and other models such as the DA50 turboprop.
Peter Maurer will continue to serve as CEO of Diamond Canada, the letter states, and “with limited exceptions, customers will continue to be served by their existing Diamond authorized distribution partners in all markets.” The manufacturer of each model moving forward will handle factory direct and fleet sales, “however existing relationships and customer preferences will be respected.” Diamond Canada will contact service centers and distributors in global markets to solicit interest in representing the Canadian firm.
The D-Jet program was suspended in 2013 as Diamond Canada slashed staff, with Maurer at the time citing the costly jet program and another foreign investment deal gone awry when the funds never materialized.