By Karen Di Piazza
On April 9, Colorado’s bankruptcy court approved AAI Acquisition Inc., the sole bidder, to purchase the assets of defunct Adam Aircraft Industries Inc. for $10 million. Adam filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Feb. 15. Before Adam’s filing, the company was in the process of conducting flight tests on the A700, a twin-engine very light jet. Earlier, it had earned Federal Aviation Administration certification on the A500, a twin piston-powered plane.
Russian-owned Industrial Investors, an equity asset management company overseeing assets of more than $3 billion, is AAI’s parent company. AAI, though, is a United States-based company that filed in the state of Delaware. Dmitry Shokhin, AAI’s vice president, said the company is fully committed to continue operations at Centennial Airport (APA) in Colorado.
Jan D’Angelo, who oversees marketing, sales and customer support for AAI, said the “actual changing of money” happened on April 15.
“This is a great achievement on the part of AAI and all of our dedicated employees,” he said. “This was a true team effort; everyone worked so hard to make this happen.”
But aviation insiders have known from the beginning that D’Angelo, who worked at Adam for six years, is the one who approached the Russian investment firm. Having traveled the world in his previous job with Adam, D’Angelo was working a deal with Industrial Investors to sell it Adam planes. When things went south, he called the investment firm and explained to them what a great opportunity awaited them, if they bid on the company’s assets after it filed bankruptcy. Behind the scenes, it’s been D’Angelo pulling everyone together, including recruiting former core personnel.
Adam employees have moved back into the company’s facilities at APA. D’Angelo said they had to overcome a different type of obstacle before that could happen.
“The plant had been sitting vacant, and ants took over,” he laughed. “We had to call pest control. We have a lot of cleaning up to do.”
D’Angelo said that although Shokhin is AAI’s vice president, he doesn’t hold that title at the APA plant. He’ll remain in Russia.
“All AAI management that will work at our Centennial facility will be U.S. citizens, including many people Adam formerly employed,” he said. “We haven’t announced the names yet of who will be president, CEO or vice president.”
There’s been much speculation that D’Angelo will be named CEO; however, no official conversations have occurred to verify if that’s more than a rumor.
“AAI hasn’t even held a formal press conference yet,” D’Angelo said. “That probably won’t happen until late May. Within 90 days, our short-term goal is to have up to 150 people working on a full-time basis, counting the 60 part-time employees we have now. In the future, we’re contemplating a workforce of 300 people.”
As for the A500, the FAA certificate—part of the assets AAI purchased—is good, but D’Angelo confirmed the company would have to reapply for a production certificate.
“Applying for a production certificate on the A500 is something AAI will evaluate within the first 90 days of business,” he said. “Certifying the all-composite A700 VLJ takes top priory; we want to resume flight testing. More than likely, we’ll keep the Adam brand on the A700.”
He said the company would have more announcements, but right now, it needs a chance to get things up and running—namely getting its employees in place. And although Adam at one time had facilities in Pueblo, Colo. and in Ogden, Utah, D’Angelo said AAI doesn’t have any plans to open plants in those cites.
“But one thing’s certain: APA will be our main place of business,” D’Angelo said. “It feels good to be back home.”
For more information, visit [http://www.adamaircraft.com].