Court Battle Over Missile-Struck Cargo Jet

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The DHL A300 that was hit by a missile before enduring a miraculous no-hydraulics landing at Baghdad Airport in November 2004 might not survive the court battle that has blown up around it. The courier company apparently walked away from the aircraft, which, in addition to a rather large hole in the left wing courtesy of the missile, suffered some runway rash and sand damage in its inelegant but ultimately safe return to earth. Enter a couple of U.S. companies who figured they could fix the damage and resell the airplane for a tidy profit. But, according to a story in the Burlington Free Press, the deal has gone sour and the mostly-fixed airplane is on the ramp at Baghdad International Airport, where itís an inviting terrorist target. Chrison Aerospace of Burlington, Vt., and Pacific Aeromotive of Erie, Colo., bought the airplane for less than $300,000, according to Chrisonís lawyer, and the plan was to patch it up enough in Baghdad to fly it to a more secure location for final repairs and resale. They figured they could get between $8 million and $12 million for it after it was fixed. Flak-jacketed technicians repaired the wing and almost had it airworthy in late 2005 before an engine failed in ground testing. Both engines were pulled and sent to Kuwait for repairs and another A300, purchased in Saudi Arabia to scavenge for parts, remains there. The deal started to sour in 2006, and now both companies are blaming each other. Meanwhile, as the companies battle in court, the situation in Iraq is deteriorating and thereís concern they wonít have anything to fight over for much longer.