Liberty Hangs On

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Liberty Aerospace has "no intent to shut down," but has laid off another 14 workers, bringing the once 180-strong workforce down to about 32, president Keith Markley told Florida Today. The company laid off 30 workers in January. The Brevard, Fla., company is maintaining offices in Melbourne and a contract facility in Romania and intends to continue production with its skeleton staff, until such time that it can "put people back on board." All employees laid off by Liberty have received severance packages, according to the company. Liberty worked as a pioneer in the development of FADEC controls, which are available on its models, and bills its product as the "most economical certified aircraft" available in the IFR market. The company had delivered 100 aircraft by February, but blames the economic slowdown for a sharp decline in sales for all general aviation sales. The base two-seat IFR Liberty XL2 is priced at $188,000 is marketed to flight schools and individual pilots.

The Liberty XL2 evolved originally from the Europa kit-built aircraft and the new aircraft is offered by Liberty as a two-seater that burns five gallons per hour running a FADEC-optimized 125-hp Continental that after a nearly 1500-foot ground roll pushes the XL2 along at about 122 knots in cruise.