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Fri, Aug 03, 2007

Sold! Georgia Holding Group Purchases Tiger AG-5B Type-Certificate

True Flight Holdings LLC Hopes To Begin Production Anew

There's a new chapter in the turbulent history of Tiger Aircraft. True Flight Holdings, LLC is the new owner of the type certificate for the single-engine Tiger AG-5B.

The Martinsburg (WV) Journal-News reports the company was the sole bidder for the TC. Bankruptcy trustee Thomas Fluharty said a planned Wednesday auction was scratched, and True Flight snagged the certificate for $925,000.

"There was only one offer," Fluharty said Wednesday.

A total of $5.1 million in claims have been filed against the former Tiger Aircraft Company, which as ANN reported filed for Chapter 7 liquidation in January. The company opened its doors in 2001, and had hoped to follow Cessna's lead for a successful reintroduction of a storied airframe.

Tiger's business model closely followed that of Cessna with the 172 Skyhawk and 182 Skylane; the planemaker even received FAA certification for installation of the Garmin G1000 glass panel (below) in 2005. Its original business plan was to produce 70 aircraft per year.

Sadly, the company never attained even that relatively conservative goal. In Tiger's best year -- 2004 -- sales reached their zenith of $3.1 million. In 2005, the factory shipped 15 planes, then only three for the first ten months of 2006.

The type certificate grants Georgia-based True Flight the right to produce the AG-5B. As of Thursday, however, the rest of the former Tiger Aircraft's assets were still up for grabs... including the now-defunct company's lease on land near Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport, as well as a 75,000 square-foot manufacturing plant.

"The land lease is still being marketed," Fluharty said. "There are a few interested purchasers."

In a posting to a Grumman owners group, True Flight CEO Kevin Lancaster clarified what his group's purchase entailed.

"In other words, the type certificates and rights thereof, the tooling and equipment used to build the aircraft, intellectual property rights, parts and materials inventory, in short, everything except the buildings, ground lease, office furniture and paint booth," Lancaster wrote.

"We want to return the aircraft to production ASAP," Lancaster said, adding he has owned two Tigers.

Lancaster adds it's likely a new plant to produce the AG-5B will be located in Georgia.

The news of Tiger's sale, and likely move, comes in the midst of a tough news cycle for aircraft companies once -- and still -- based in Martinsburg. As ANN reported earlier this week, struggling jetmaker Sino Swearingen laid off an estimated 43 workers at that company's parts manufacturing plant in Martinsburg.

FMI: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiger_Aircraft

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