Colorado is returning to its aviation roots as two aircraft manufacturers take off at Centennial Airport-fueled by the dreams of two business who share a passion for flying and the technology available to a new era in corporate transport.
Adam Aircraft Industries and Aviation Technology Group Inc. this year unveiled new aircraft in different stages of production, each claiming their new product will revolutionize the 14,000-member pilot-owner market by not only reducing costs buy offering safer state-of-the-art technology.
Rick Adam founded Adam Aircraft in 1998, following the sale of his New Era of Networks computer technology company to Sybase Inc. and before that his partnership in Goldman Sachs in New York. To date, he's invested $20 million in startup costs, triumphantly witnessing in July the inaugural flight of the six-passenger CarbonAero A500 from a Centennial runway near his 55,000-square-foot corporate headquarters.
Adam expects FAA certification during the first quarter 2003, and after that plans to turn out 25 aircraft the first year and 50 the second from a 20,000 square-foot hangar that employs 132 and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. "Aircraft design has not changed over the last 40 or 50 years," said Adam, a private pilot who works at a desk on the hangar floor. "There just hasn't been anyone willing to step up until now."
And now there are two companies on the Colorado landscape.
George E. Bye, president of privately held Aviation Technology Group Inc., and a former Air Force pilot and aerospace manager, before a crowd of 600 in July unveiled his company's Javelin full-scale mock-up, a sleek two-seat jet he calls the "sports car" of aviation. The Javelin, which will be assembled at manufacturing facilities in Altus, Okla., also holds promise as a Homeland Defense Interceptor patrolling America's skies in the war against terrorism.
"An F-16 fighter bomber at $26.9 million is an expensive way to patrol against the threat of acts of terrorism," said Bye. "Our Homeland Defense Interceptor would cost $4.5 million and be more proportionate to what we need. You don't need a tank on the highway; you need a patrol car and we'd be that patrol car in the skies."
Founded in 1997, Aviation Technology expects to deliver its first civilian Javelin in 2005 following more than a decade of research and $70 million in production costs. Already the company has received more than 125 inquiries from potential buyers, including...