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swiss_cheese

CTLSi - major delays - frozen deliveries?

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The GAMA figures make for interesting reading.

 

Here is FD’s total annual production figures by unit, according to GAMA reports:

 

2014: 88 aircraft

2013: 89

2012: 76

2011: 89

2010 & earlier: no records posted

 

2015:

Q1 and Q2: 31.

Q3: zero.

 

The Zero for Q3 is very hard (for me) to accept as accurate – I can’t see how any healthy company would allow production to cease entirely without saying something about it. 

 

However, if the Q3 figures are correct it would be a real concern, particularly when coupled with the silence from FD.

 

The drop in production volume in the first six months of 2015 would also concern me.  31 units  were produced in the first six months of 2015 compared to an average of 42.75 units in the previous four years. 

 

(An obvious explanation for a drop followed by a halt in production would be the Ukraine conflict, but I understand their factory was in the west of the country, away from the trouble. And if that was the source of the problem, I can’t see why FD would keep silent about it as it would justify the delays.)

 

In your shoes, Swiss Cheese, I’d be tempted to get in my car and drive to the factory.

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We also had significant part delays, taking around 4-5 months for a replacement engine mount to arrive. I even offered to take a drawing to an ISO 9001 certified machine shop to have the part manufactured here in the states and submitted for conformity inspection to help expedite, but I didn't even get a response.

 

Flight Design USA is extremely helpful. FD Germany however, doesn't answer any of my messages. Even with inquiries that I send via FDUSA, I feel like they fall on deaf ears, with FDUSA unable to provide me with any of the requested information because FD Germany doesn't seem to even acknowledge them.

 

Last year, and earlier this year, I had sent FD Germany's an inquiry about some parts drawings and information about how some of the aircraft structure is built. I voiced that my intention is to become more skilled with repairing FD aircraft, eventually doing major repair work and aircraft restoration for totalled aircraft. I sent two messages, but no response. I found a phone number and called them, and the receptionist is very friendly. However, my phone call apparently made some people higher up very upset, and what ended up happening is I got a call from Tom @ FDUSA, and was politely told to stop messaging FD Germany, and I should be going through FDUSA. Honestly, that's a reasonable request, and I hold no grudge against Tom or FDUSA. However, a simple response asking me to direct my inquiries to FDUSA would have been fine, or just politely decline my request, but instead I feel like I had dogs sicked on me.

 

Anyways, I was told the C4 project is top priority right now at FD Germany. I suspect that they are basically putting everything else on the back burner.

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FD is not just ramping up for C4 but also shifting sales to China....the whole manufacturing setup in China is for the Chinese market.   Given they seem to have stopped making and shipping from the Ukraine maybe they are thinking of shifting ALL manufacturing to China.  If so, it would make sense since the risk to Ukraine is still high.

 

But no one knows anything because Germany is silent.  Seems to have almost disappeared entirely.

 

At present there are only 3 for sale on the controller website..an SW, a CTLS and a CTLSi.

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The are rumors from a former FD employee that they had to close due to unpaid electricity-bills and employees are not all paid...

We tried to have an appointment at the factory, but had no answer.

Flight Design is a GMbH, meaning private funds with limited responsability, up to the initial capital of around 25'000 EUR, meaning if there is a bankrupt, we'll get nothing but our eyes to cry.

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2015:

Q1 and Q2: 31.

Q3: zero.

 

The Zero for Q3 is very hard (for me) to accept as accurate – I can’t see how any healthy company would allow production to cease entirely without saying something about it. 

 

However, if the Q3 figures are correct it would be a real concern, particularly when coupled with the silence from FD.

 

 

The lack of communication is very frustrating, and for whatever reason seems to be the norm for FD Germany.

 

It does seem weird to go from 31 airplanes to zero.  When companies are struggling one usually sees a steady, slow decline in productions, not a cliff like that.

 

It's possible that production was suspended for other than economic reasons.  If facilities were being moved around, even in just one aspect of the production line, it can cause deliveries to halt.  For example, if their paint shop is down while being upgraded, they might still be producing airframes and parts, but delivering no airplanes because none of them are in a fully completed state, and are just stacking up waiting to be painted.  If that's the case, you might expect to see a larger number of airplanes completed once changes are complete.

 

Just another possibility, and complete speculation.

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The are rumors from a former FD employee that they had to close due to unpaid electricity-bills and employees are not all paid...

We tried to have an appointment at the factory, but had no answer.

Flight Design is a GMbH, meaning private funds with limited responsability, up to the initial capital of around 25'000 EUR, meaning if there is a bankrupt, we'll get nothing but our eyes to cry.

Deliveries of airplanes have not been interrupted in the USA, so I don't think there is anything wrong with the Company.

 

Cheers

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We tried to have an appointment at the factory, but had no answer.

 

 

That might be your problem right there.  Don't make an appointment, just go there.  At the door tell them you have put a deposit on one of their airplanes (bring any paperwork to that effect with you) and that you want to take a tour of the facilities and ask some questions.  Be very friendly, not confrontational.  

 

If they turn a depositor away under those circumstances, you might have a real problem and should look over your contract for a way to get the deposit back.

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Deliveries of airplanes have not been interrupted in the USA, so I don't think there is anything wrong with the Company.

 

Cheers

Flight Design USA and Germany are two different companies, unfortunately. I wish we had ordered at Flight Design USA :) 

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Flight Design USA and Germany are two different companies, unfortunately. I wish we had ordered at Flight Design USA :)

 

If your worst suspicions are true and the company is folding then ordering at FD USA would not make a difference...the USA does not make aircraft.

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Maybe what he's saying is that he would rather look to a solvent FDusa than a BK FDgermany.  Hard to say how much difference it would make in that USA would like pass the deposit along?

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If dealing with FD is currently frustrating, then dealing with Remos, according to a flight school and their maintenance department, is just frustrating.

 

I have to say this is exactly one of the reasons I bought an SLSA 'made in the USA'. I placed my deposit with Vans and six weeks later took delivery and it's performed perfectly. If I need to contact them I just pick up the phone/e-mail and I get a quick response.

 

I looked closely at Tecnam, FD and Remos in my search for an SLSA and whilst they can produce really nice planes, and I carefully considered them, the problems as posted in this thread definitely affected my decision. For the record I found dealing with Tecnam's US representatives just as frustrating and caused me to cancel a deal on an airplane.

 

  When Cessna manufactured their Skycatcher in China (reassembled in USA) they were roundly criticized, including on this forum. Its rather ironic if FD is in the process of moving their manufacturing to China.

 

What are the FD dealers on this forum saying? Surely they must have an idea if FD is having problems, going out of business etc?

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Czech sport cruiser support seems to be very good, and the us distributor even stocks parts as big as whole wings.

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If dealing with FD is currently frustrating, then dealing with Remos, according to a flight school and their maintenance department, is just frustrating.

 

I have to say this is exactly one of the reasons I bought an SLSA 'made in the USA'. I placed my deposit with Vans and six weeks later took delivery and it's performed perfectly. If I need to contact them I just pick up the phone/e-mail and I get a quick response.

 

I looked closely at Tecnam, FD and Remos in my search for an SLSA and whilst they can produce really nice planes, and I carefully considered them, the problems as posted in this thread definitely affected my decision. For the record I found dealing with Tecnam's US representatives just as frustrating and caused me to cancel a deal on an airplane.

 

  When Cessna manufactured their Skycatcher in China (reassembled in USA) they were roundly criticized, including on this forum. Its rather ironic if FD is in the process of moving their manufacturing to China.

 

What are the FD dealers on this forum saying? Surely they must have an idea if FD is having problems, going out of business etc?

 

To get the best product some hassle is worth it...  remember, this thread is about a guy in Switzerland...no one in the USA has had his experience.

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I have to say this is exactly one of the reasons I bought an SLSA 'made in the USA'. I placed my deposit with Vans and six weeks later took delivery and it's performed perfectly. If I need to contact them I just pick up the phone/e-mail and I get a quick response.

 

 

There is nothing magical about US companies.  Vans is currently enjoying great success with both LSA and E-AB segments.  But that is no guarantee that if they fell on hard times that they would answer their phones either.  I've gotten screwed by at least as many US companies as foreign companies over the years...   :(

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To get the best product some hassle is worth it...  remember, this thread is about a guy in Switzerland...no one in the USA has had his experience.

 

I have the feeling a lot of other pilots, clubs and customers outside US must be concerned. Remember this related earlier post: http://ctflier.com/index.php?/topic/2792-delivery-delay-and-delivery-problems/page-10where there was a first a testimony from Emmanuel from Belgium, then others from Mexico, France, Romania, JohFlyer another guy from Switzerland, etc. So I started this post, to look around for other guys like me. I am surprised not to read (yet?) any similar report in the magasines and specialised publications. 

Thanks all anyway for your reactions and contributions! 

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There is nothing magical about US companies.

Take Cirrus.

 

A fabulously successful company, selling lots and lots of planes

 

But...

 

It's completely unknown to the general public whether they've ever actually succeeded in turning a profit.

 

It clearly has been a rocky road. First getting a capital infusion from Crescent Capital in the Mideast (renamed Arcapita for appearance's sake). Then bought by Caiga, a Chinese company.

 

Anyway, making money as a small aircraft manufacturer seems a difficult task. Even at $162,000 a pop for a CT, or $750,000 for a Cirrus.

 

Hope FD makes it through what certainly seems like a very rough patch.

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Take Cirrus.

 

A fabulously successful company, selling lots and lots of planes

 

But...

 

It's completely unknown to the general public whether they've ever actually succeeded in turning a profit.

 

It clearly has been a rocky road. First getting a capital infusion from Crescent Capital in the Mideast (renamed Arcapita for appearance's sake). Then bought by Caiga, a Chinese company.

 

Anyway, making money as a small aircraft manufacturer seems a difficult task. Even at $162,000 a pop for a CT, or $750,000 for a Cirrus.

 

Hope FD makes it through what certainly seems like a very rough patch.

 

Agreed.  If there was an airplane in every driveway like cars, economies of scale would make them cheap.  As simple as they are, probably much cheaper than cars.  But as it is each one is essentially a completely hand-crafted item taking thousands of man-hours to complete.  That's ain't cheap.  

 

Somebody needs to invent some kind of mold or vacuum-forming process than can knock out a mostly complete airframe in minutes.  

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I have the feeling a lot of other pilots, clubs and customers outside US must be concerned. Remember this related earlier post: http://ctflier.com/index.php?/topic/2792-delivery-delay-and-delivery-problems/page-10where there was a first a testimony from Emmanuel from Belgium, then others from Mexico, France, Romania, JohFlyer another guy from Switzerland, etc. So I started this post, to look around for other guys like me. I am surprised not to read (yet?) any similar report in the magasines and specialised publications. 

Thanks all anyway for your reactions and contributions! 

My brother bought a new CTLSi 4 months ago, just got a call , it is at Placid Lakes Airport now.  I will fly it this weekend and it will be delivered to Miami shortly after that. Personally, that is not the hallmark of a company in trouble financially, quite the opposite. But then I don't know everything  there is to know about the company.

 

Cheers

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They already exist. The problem is, there's not enough volume to justify such a facility incorporating automation for aircraft building.

 

Consider how enormously expensive a robotics facility is for building cars. The only reason they exist is that the economy of scale is so incredibly massive.

 

In the end, the interest in flying is tiny compared to the population. Unless that changes, it's never going to be "cheap".

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Planes are hand-built and heavily regulated, hence the cost. 

 

A car has more sophisticated and reliable components, and is far more crashworthy than an aircraft ever hopes to be for obvious reasons.  Even a cheap $10k car is better built than most business jets.

 

Consider the maintenance requirements for aircraft; its absurd.  Every 100 hours and every year...thousands blown due to the heavy regulations hyper expensive mechanics, and fragile components that must be checked and replaced far more frequently than car components.

 

And suffer absurdly expensive leaded and diesel fuel.  And pay tons to hangar them.  And we blow thousands earning the privilege to fly and to renew the privilege to fly.

 

Take a close look at the GAMA report...the total output for all companies taken together, even adding GA+business jets+military is laughably small compared to one single car company in one single plant.

 

 And we wait months and years to get them...    That's just the nature of the beast. 

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