Adam Aircraft: If Only They’d Listened…

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The last time I certified an airplane was, well, never, but something nags at me about the whole Adam collapse that makes so much sense to me I’m sure someone will set me straight.

You see, I was there when Adam, which had been toiling away on its push/pull A500 twin for years with only lukewarm interest, absolutely stole the show at Oshkosh by flying its very cool and very capable A700 very light jet to EAA AirVenture.

Steven Spielberg could not have produced a better entrance.

With a crashing thunderstorm as a backdrop and the National Geographic light that rainbows and sun slanting through the deluge creates, the A700 tracked smartly through Aeroshell Square on its way to the Adam exhibit.

Not only was it the first VLJ to fly to Oshkosh, it was great to look at and had features (like a potty) that the others didn’t. Sure, it was just a shell at that time but you could see it was going places. From the time it arrived, the Adam exhibit was always the most crowded and the buzz from an otherwise lackluster show was all about the A700. In sports and politics, they call that momentum.

I said to my AVweb colleagues (although I’m sure they’ll claim not to remember) that Adam should push the A500 to the back of the hangar and pour all of it resources into getting the A700 certified and on the market. Often the difference between success and failure in a new market is getting there first. Cessna was just stirring on the VLJ market, Eclipse was stalled by its engine problems and all the rest were either playing with paper airplanes or feeling out the market. Adam had the chance to grab first place in the VLJ sweepstakes.

Instead, it said that while the A700 was a lot of fun, it had to finish the A500 before it could commit big resources to the jet. Well, the excrutiating A500 certification dragged on and on and the same old A700 shell kept turning up at the shows. Still, hardly anyone paid attention to the piston aircraft, which, at more than $1 million, looked pretty lame against its turbine stablemate. Well, you know the story. Soon there were other VLJs to get excited about. When Adam closed on Monday, it still hadn’t certified the A700 (for which it had hundreds of orders) and the A500 had sold just 17 copies, only seven of which had been delivered.

There’s a slim chance that an eleventh-hour deal to save the company will happen. Miracles happen, right? What’s more likely is that the company will be liquidated and an existing company will get it for pennies on the dollar.

That has me wondering if maybe Cirrus saw this coming and bailed on the Columbia deal in favour of picking up Adam. The two have been working on composite technology together (Cirrus needs pressurization in its new jet and Adam knows how) and the cultures of the two companies seem to fit.

If the Klapmeiers do make that play, I hope they learn from Adam’s error and put that push/pull twin on the backburner while they concentrate on the jet. The push/pull has no place in the Cirrus lineup but the A700 would make a nice capper to the progressive ownership model that drives Cirrus’s business plan.

We can hope.