Czech Aircraft Works Expands LSA Production

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Czech Aircraft Works, which was among the first companies to enter the U.S. Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) market, has been expanding rapidly over the last year and has more growth plans in the works. CEO Chip Erwin told the Czech Business Weekly that he expects his company will be the top producer of LSAs by 2009. "[With the investment] in the last six months, we leapfrogged the competition by a large margin," Erwin said. Last summer, Erwin sold 49.45 percent of the company to an investment firm for about $2.5 million and used much of that cash to buy a 100,000-square-foot manufacturing plant and equip it with new machinery and production technology. Erwin said he plans to buy a second building next door later this year, doubling the space. CZAW has some 200 employees and ships more than 150 aircraft per year, and now plans to build 500 airplanes per year by 2009. The company manufactures the amphibious Mermaid, the SportCruiser and the streamlined Parrot, as well as a line of straight and amphibious floats fitting many brands of aircraft.