Grob Aerospace insolvency administrator Dr. Michael Jaffé has announced that two companies have expressed interest in taking over the German aircraft manufacturer. These include little known H3 Aerospace from Munich, headed by Johann Heitzmann and Chinese manufacturer Guizhou Aviation Industry Corporation (GAIC).
GAIC is part of the giant state group AVIC I that makes fighters, the ARJ21 regional airliner, Airbus sub-assemblies and many other aircraft and automotive components.
According to Jaffe both offers are still tentative and the winner will likely be selected before year-end by a committee for further negotiations.
Grob Aerospace, unexpectedly filed for insolvency mid-August even as it was engaged in a major expansion programme aimed at bringing its new G180 SPn business jet to market.
The bidders are interested primarily in Grob's trainers, which have provided the bulk of the company's business in the past. Both contenders are offering around $4.5 million for the trainer business, and GAIC might offer an additional $3.5 million for the SPn after further investigation.
Piston-powered Grob basic trainers are in service with several major air forces, including the British Royal Air Force, which is interested in ordering an additional batch.
The fate of the SPn business jet remains uncertain.
Interestingly, Grob was also interested in developing the SPn platform as a High Altitude Long Endurance surveillance aircraft.
The insolvency also had repercussions for Canadian manufacturer Bombardier Aerospace. Grob, which has years of expertise in composite aircraft manufacturing technology, had been retained to build the first prototypes for Bombardier's new Learjet 85. The two companies were engaged in a joint development programme that was to culminate in the production of three Learjet 85 prototypes at Grob's production facility in Tussenhausen-Mattsies, Germany.
When Bombardier selected Grob for the program in January, it said it made the decision because the European firm "is one of the world's most experienced... in the development and manufacture of composite aircraft structures."
The insolvency came less than two weeks after Grob conducted a successful first flight of its No. 4 SPn test aircraft. The company had noted then that the programme was "well on the way to certification."
According to the insolvency administrator Jaffe, negotiations were continuing with other interested parties, but the outlook for a seamless continuation of the SPn program was bleak.
Grob Aerospace is one of the world's largest and most experienced composite aircraft manufacturers since 1971. Within its 35 years of history Grob Aerospace has delivered more than 3,500 aircraft that have flown over seven million hours on five continents.
Its product range has evolved from pioneering gliders of the 70s, the record- breaking high-altitude aircraft of the 80s and 90s, and to today's leading edge designed and state-of-the-art business jets, as well as to training and special mission aircraft.
Grob launched the spn light jet in 2005 introducing it as a new class of uniquely designed business aircraft. This is a clean sheet design that fully exploits the unique properties of composite materials, offering the latest in aerospace technology, and thus affording significant advances.
The spn combines the versatility and excellent short field performance of a turboprop with the comfort and performance of a genuine luxury jet, even from unpaved runways.