Details remain a mite contradictory at the moment,
but it appears that Maverick Jets, an increasingly controversial
jet SportPlane kit manufacturer with pretensions of eventually
certifying a small bizjet, has laid off a significant number of its
manufacturing staff -- suddenly and without warning.
Run by self-styled entrepreneur Jim McCotter, the Maverick jet
operation laid off a "significant portion" of its staff with no
warning, Thursday. Statements made to the local media indicate that
the company did so in preparation for outsourcing most of its
future production needs. The identity of those would be doing this
outsourcing remains a mystery as company officials refused to
disclose the name of those companies that might be taking on this
task. Even more questionable is the entreaty that remains on the
company's website, offering possible employment...
The Maverick Jet project was once the brainchild
of homebuilder Bob Bornhofen, and was later taken over by McCotter
(right) in a move that has since resulted in some heated
litigation. McCotter has since alienated a number of industry
luminaries with questionable claims for the capabilities and
utility of the twin engine Maverick SportPlane. The company and its
website were taken to task by ANN and EAA some months ago for
claims that were determined to be outside of the FARs (especially
in terms of the way that the aircraft could be purchased, built,
and operated), and after ignoring the matter for many months, the
company eventually starting correcting some, but not all, of its
published misstatements. Surprisingly; the company actually still
maintains that its "custom" jets are safer than production
aircraft, and its explanation of the difference between a custom
plane and production aircraft is somewhat suspect.
The company has promised to certificate the aircraft at a later
date, making claims that a number of industry experts found to
be "overly optimistic, if not outright questionable." Others, even
among the FAA, strongly question the feasibility/legality of the
custom-built jets that Maverick has been offering the public...
ostensibly until a certified version becomes available. ANN was
present when a salesperson for Maverick, working the floor of the
NBAA 2002 Convention, stated that a purchaser "did not have get
their hands dirty," and that all the manufacturing would be done by
Maverick's custom builders -- despite the FAA's well-known 51%
A fatal crash in the company prototype, in late January, was
seen as a strong blow to the fledgling manufacturer. Test Pilot
Jack Reed was killed while operating out of the Melbourne, FL,
airport. Numerous witnesses, who were monitoring the tower
frequency (at first confirmed by Maverick until another story about
pilot/medical incapacitation became prominent), indicate that the
aircraft was having gear problems and made a number of passes
trying to diagnose the problem when it went down while turning
outbound for what was to be a landing attempt.
The story gets pretty muddy here in that company officials are
now telling the media that the accident was the result of a medical
problem on the part of the pilot... even though there is no mention
of this in the current NTSB preliminary accident report, nor any
other documented corroboration that we are aware of. Company
spokesman, Sandy Scott, even claimed that it was "widely
understood in the aviation community that the cause of the
crash was due to a medical situation," and while we have heard
these rumors previously, we have ONLY heard them from Maverick
officials--who initially opined that since the pilot had "the flu,"
that he may have made a mistake as a result. ANN strongly
questions the statement that accident's cause is widely understood
in the aviation community.
The NTSB's preliminary report also makes no
mention of any medical malady, stating that, "...After takeoff
the pilot reported a problem with the landing gear. He made a
fly-by the tower and it was observed that one of the main landing
gear was up, the nose gear and the other main gear was half way. He
retracted the gear and flew by the tower again, this time he flew
real low, according to some witnesses about 100 to 200 feet off the
ground. The pilot notified the tower that he planned to do a gear
up landing on the grass between a taxiway and runway 9R. He came
around again at a low altitude and missed the intended landing
area. He stayed low, a tower operator told investigators that on
the last pass of the tower, they were looking down at the airplane.
As the airplane passed the tower the operator looked away for a
second to clear fire trucks across the runway and when he looked
back at the airplane he saw smoke coming from the trees.
Investigators found the left wing tip tank in a tree about 35 feet
above the ground."
Maverick, who claims to be "the world leader in
personal jets," has reported sales of some 20 kits. Scott even
claims that the accident has helped them sell kits, telling Florida
Today that, "the crash actually had a positive effect on
sales when it was learned that the strength of the composite
materials used to construct the aircraft caused the cockpit to stay
totally intact. Even the seats remained in place." ANN is unaware
of anyone who has bought a Maverick based on the reported
crashworthiness of the aircraft. We'd love to hear from anyone who
ANN is attempting to get additional clarifications from the
company... we'll be sure to clue you in when that occurs.