Flight Design, maker of what remains the most popular brand of light sport aircraft in terms of units sold despite a slowdown in production and lengthy receivership process in Germany, expects to pick up the pace of new deliveries in 2018.
Production slowed to nearly a halt soon after the fiscal woes of the German airplane maker came to a head in 2016, and Flight Design GmbH, the original company, entered voluntary receivership. Manufacturing continued at a slow pace, and a Taiwan company, AeroJones Aviation, reported purchasing the manufacturing and distribution rights for the CT series and C4, a four-seater in development. Some AeroJones announcements, including a more recent media release, may have suffered in translation, so Tom Peghiny, president of Flight Design USA, the exclusive distributor for North and South America, explained the complex chain of events in a telephone conversation and email exchange with AOPA.
Since LiftAir closed the deal, the company has supported current owners with needed parts and regulatory compliance, invested in upgrades to the factory in Ukraine, and increased production to about four aircraft a month. Peghiny said that rate will increase to six or more per month through 2018. AeroJones is meanwhile also producing Flight Design models under license. “They bought the rights for the Asia Pacific market,” Peghiny explained, noting that “does not include the U.S. West Coast,” so all of the aircraft he imports will come from Germany.
Peghiny said the new owners and management are focused on improving parts availability and customer service.
“We’re building up the stock here in Woodstock, so that’s great for everyone,” Peghiny said, referring to the Woodstock, Connecticut, home of Flight Design USA, where he expected to have a demonstrator aircraft on hand in late December or early January.
That will be a CTLSi GT (Grand Touring) 2020 Edition, a “lightly upgraded” version of the CTLSi sold in America since 2012. The upgrades are primarily found in the panel, including twin 10-inch Dynon SkyView Touch HDX screens mounted on the left and right side of the panel, and a third, 7-inch SkyView Touch HDX at the top of the center stack used for engine management and autopilot control. A Garmin 796 is an optional replacement for that screen. The Dynon avionics also provide Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) In and Out functions, making the CTLSi GT 2020 compliant with the coming ADS-B mandate.
Peghiny said all Flight Design aircraft sold in the U.S. will be manufactured in Ukraine and Germany, with completion, test flights, and quality management all done in Eisenach, Germany.
Flight Design general aviation also will resume testing and development of the four-seat C4 design, which will be the company’s first certified aircraft. No timetable for that effort has been set, yet, Peghiny said.
“Flight Design is honoring all of the C4 deposits,” Peghiny said, noting that includes about 28 customers in the United States.