Tiger Might Buy Commander

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Commander Aircraft, of Bethany, Okla., could resume production this year if a buyout by Tiger Aircraft, of Martinsburg, W.Va., is approved by shareholders. Tiger, which makes a modern version of the Grumman model by the same name, has offered to buy 80 percent of the shares in Aviation General, the holding company that owns Commander. Commander filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2002. The deal has to be approved by the 400 shareholders in Aviation General and by the Delaware bankruptcy court. If it goes through, Tiger will have added a heavier, more powerful, more luxurious and slightly faster aircraft to its line. The Tiger was born as a stretched version of the sporty Traveler in 1975. With 180 horsepower and a useful load of 900 pounds, it went head-to-head with mid-range Cessnas, Pipers and Beechcrafts for the light touring market. The current manufacturer, Tiger Aircraft LLC, received type certification for the updated version in 2001. Commander began life as the light-aircraft division of Rockwell International until the line was purchased by the current company in 1988.