Quartz Mountain Aerospace Waiting For Production
An Altus, OK-based planemaker hoping
to reintroduce a variant of the storied Luscombe 11 Sedan to the
general aviation market recently laid off 20 of its 104 employees,
citing delays in FAA inspections and supply issues.
Quartz Mountain Aerospace CEO John S. Daniel told The Oklahoman
newspaper his company is waiting to receive its production
certificate from the FAA. Until then, the agency has to inspect
each individual plane prior to delivery... and Daniel says there
are only so many inspectors to go around.
"They have not abandoned us, but they've told us how much time
and people they can dedicate to our effort," Daniel said. "What
that amounts to is that it will take us longer to get production
Daniel also admits parts shortages and training issues within
the company played a role in the production delay... and until
those issues are resolved, there's only so much work to go around
at the company's plant at Quartz Mountain Regional Airport
"With delays, we just had more people than we had work for right
now," Daniel said.
Most of the layoffs involved production line workers, although
several clerks and draftsmen were also included. All will be
eligible for unemployment benefits, Daniels stressed, and some
could be recalled to work in the future.
Quartz Mountain Aerospace -- formerly Luscombe Aircraft Corp. --
earned amended FAA type-certification for its tricycle-geared
Luscombe 11E in 2002, but the plane has suffered a turbulent path
to production since then. To date, the company has received
approximately $9.5 million in loans from the city, and another $32
million in special financing from the state of Oklahoma.
Today, Quartz Mountain says the company it has about 120 firm
orders for the four-place, single-engine, high-wing
aircraft, which it is marketing to flight schools and
private pilots. The company now hopes to have its production cert
by the end of the year.
Daniels says its customers have been understanding of the
company's problems. "Those people are aware of the problems," he
said. "At this time, we've not lost any potential customers because
of the time delay."
That sentiment is confirmed by Luscombe Southwest regional
dealer Miles Hoover, who says Quartz Mountain has kept him up to
speed on the delays.
"They've got most of the planes sold if they can just get them
into production," the Grapevine, TX-based dealer told The
FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said the agency is doing
all it can to expedite that process.
"We are prioritizing these projects on a national basis," Cory
said. "The safety of our current fleet is our top priority, but our
goal is to get to as many of these new projects as quickly as