Extra, Extra

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Ken Keith announced at Oshkosh that his team will assume management control of Extra Aircraft beginning August 1, resume production of the aerobatic Extra 300 and seek certification of the $1.5 million, pressurized, six-seat, turbine-powered, 235-KTAS-on-20-GPH (with a 1,700-pound useful load) Extra 500. The Extra was nearly wiped off the map by the convergence of a slow economy, slow sales and the Lycoming 540 series crankshaft shortage that saw an end earlier this year. According to the new management team, Lycoming's work to resolve the crankshaft problem stopped the delivery of Extra aircraft for seven and a half months. "That really hurt us badly," said Oliver Oechsle, a member of the new Extra Aircraft. L.P. The net effect ultimately placed the company in the hands of a bankruptcy trustee, which has controlled it since January. Under new management headed by Ken Keith, the company will see new life, avoiding the imbalance of debt and equity and making a stronger push at marketing. Keith, who owns and flies an E400, is a former manager at Arthur Anderson and the primary equity investor for Extra Aircraft L.P.. Keith said the acquisition represents $30 million of research and design. The company expects to be delivering as many as 24 aircraft in 2004 with first deliveries of the Extra 500 following certification expected near year's end. The Extra 300 is the only unlimited category aerobatic aircraft with unrestricted international certification; the Extra 500, an all-carbon-fiber, $1.5 million pressurized turboprop with a 1,700-pound useful load, is seeking owner-operators of slightly different constitution.