Tamarack Aerospace Group, the maker of a performance-enhancing winglet used on some Cessna Citation jets that filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June, announced a reorganization plan designed to repay creditors and lead the company out of bankruptcy by year’s end.
The Sandpoint, Idaho-based maker of active winglets installed on approximately 97 Cessna 525, 525A, and 525B twinjets filed for bankruptcy after European and U.S. regulators issued airworthiness directives grounding the aircraft from concerns that a November 2018 fatal accident in the United States and a 2019 loss-of-control incident in the United Kingdom may have involved malfunctioning winglets. Tamarack has maintained that the events are both discredited as the basis for the ADs and offered details to support that contention in an October 22 media briefing.
Tamarack executives briefed the aviation press about the reorganization plan in an October 22 news conference at the 2019 National Business Aviation Association convention in Las Vegas. The company is operating normally, has booked 14 new orders for the active load alleviation system (ATLAS) winglets this year, is working to rebuild its workforce to pre-bankruptcy level, and is hard at work countering media misconceptions about Tamarack, they said.
The officials—Tamarack President Jacob Klinginsmith, formerly Tamarack’s chief engineer, and company founder Nicholas Guida—said the ADs issued in Europe and later in the United States following the April 13 incident were imposed in a regulatory climate influenced by the March 10 crash of a Boeing 737 Max in Ethiopia. That widely reported accident and a preceding 737 Max crash in October 2018 appeared linked to a malfunction of the airliner’s maneuvering characteristics augmentation system. The Ethiopia crash “kind of set a tone” for intensive scrutiny by regulators, Klinginsmith said.
Klinginsmith reasserted the company’s contention that both the fatal Citation accident in the United States and the subsequent incident in the United Kingdom that involved a pilot report of a jet entering a steep uncommanded bank have been discredited as causes for concern about the winglets—a view he said was corroborated by the NTSB investigator in charge of the ongoing probe of the fatal crash. In the April 2019 loss-of-control incident, data obtained by investigators contradicted the pilot’s report that the aircraft rolled 90 degrees in one second, he said.
Throughout Tamarack’s ordeal, they said, customers have remained steadfast supporters, and the company is rebuilding its workforce that had been reduced from 32 to 19 employees while winglet installations were idled.
Customer confidence was credited with helping Tamarack pass a key comeback milestone in July, when the FAA accepted Tamarack’s proposal for an alternate method of compliance to the AD, terminating the groundings, and in August, when Tamarack received a fresh commitment of investor funding.
"We continue to make significant progress in the reorganization, we have made a number of strategic changes to the business which has made us more resilient and we will emerge stronger and more viable than before,” Klinginsmith said in an October 21 announcement of the company’s recovery plan.
The proposed reorganization strategy “is testament to the financial health and viability of Tamarack, and we look for confirmation as early as end of the year,” it said.
AOPA Senior Director of Communications Gina Piellusch contributed reporting for this article from the National Business Aviation Association–Business Aviation and Convention Exhibition in Las Vegas.