Last week, Mooney Airplane Company announced a new financial restructuring deal that may help balance the books. President Nelson Happy said the agreement gives Mooney "less debt and more cash," as investors recognized the company needed more working capital and less debt. Specifically, the company changed the holdings of convertible debentures, which are basically credit notes, into share holdings, therefore making the investors interest more of an ownership stake. Happy said the result is a relatively small amount of debt and $5 million of working capital. While the financial restructuring is underway, Mooney's personnel roster and facilities continue to grow. The company's workforce has grown to about 175 employees, a 10-percent increase in workforce since the beginning of 2003. Happy said a large influx of orders could bump the workforce up to 250 employees.
This week, Soloy Corporation announced FAA certification of the Soloy Turbine Pac-powered Cessna T206H/206H. The Washington-state aircraft modification company has already delivered more than 60 turbine 206G model conversions over the past few years. The company claims the new package offers a host of improvements over its last mods. It says the major system advantages include the reliability of the Rolls-Royce Model 250-C20S engine, superior climb/cruise performance, international fuel availability and a particularly low noise/vibration signature. In addition, Soloy claims the engine installation equipped with the inlet/compressor facing aft provides maximum protection to the engine from foreign object damage.
While things seem to be looking up at Mooney and Soloy, Raytheon is preparing to eliminate the remains of a failed project. The company is planning to scrap the 40 remaining Starships in its fleet. The canard-design, twin-turboprop pushers were built from 1988 to 1995. It also owns the three planes built as prototypes. While the airplane's debut initially made for a lot of hoopla and head-turning, its sales were dismal. The company said the leftover planes were only collecting dust, so Raytheon will now scrap and salvage components of the planes and add them to its parts inventory. To date, six aircraft -- three prototype planes and three production planes -- have been decommissioned. This decision was partly based on the cost needed to support such a small customer fleet. So, what's the future hold for the few Starship owners out there? Raytheon is currently in discussions with the individual owners of the 10 aircraft not owned by the company.