Mooney Aircraft Employees Face Another Round Of Layoffs


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Mooney Aircraft Employees Face Another Round Of Layoffs

Bill Goldston

November 21, 2010 - Mooney employees received unwelcome news this week as the holiday season approaches. More difficult decisions were necessary that will eliminate many of the current positions at the company by year end. 

"We are not shutting down," said Mooney Chief Financial Officer Barry Hodkin. "However, we cannot continue to subsidize the company at the level we have in the recent past. We have been in discussions with potential investors for more than 18 months and will continue to work with them. If things change then the scope of this layoff could change." 

"We will continue to protect Mooney's assets both tangible and intangible," Hodkin said. "Those assets include the facilities and our certificates for production and manufacturing."


In addition, the company intends to continue to provide technical support to existing owners and a level of spare parts support for Mooney airplanes.Mooney began layoffs in 2008. At that time, the company employed approximately 500 people in the manufacture of its high-performance, single engine aircraft.

That year, as the economy worsened Mooney started taking steps to survive the economic downturn. On November 4, 2008, more than 200 employees were furloughed. Smaller reductions in force continued until they reached today's employment level of 53. Hodkin said negotiations with potential investors continue, but there have been no commitments made to date. 

The Mooney Airplane Company (MAC) is a U.S. manufacturer of single-engined general aviation aircraft. Mooney has been a leader in civil aviation even though the company has gone bankrupt and changed ownership several times.  Among their achievements were the first pressurized single-engine piston-powered aircraft, the M22 Mustang, production of the fastest civilian single engine piston-powered aircraft in the world the M20TN Acclaim Type S.

The first production aircraft to achieve 201 mph (323 km/h) on 200 hp (150 kW)) (M20J 201) and the fastest transcontinental flight in a single-engine, piston-powered production aircraft (M20K 231). All Mooney aircraft have the signature vertical stabilizer with its vertical leading edge and swept trailing edge that gives the illusion of being forward-swept.


Mooney Aircraft Corporation was started in 1929 by Albert and Arthur Mooney with funding from Bridgeport Machine Company of Wichita, Kansas. Mooney Aircraft went bankrupt in 1930. The Mooney brothers worked for other aircraft companies from then through World War II. In 1946, Albert started Mooney Aircraft, Inc. with Charles "Pappy" Yankey in Kerrville, Texas. The next year Arthur joined the company.

The first aircraft produced by the new Mooney company was the small, single-seat, Mooney Mite M-18. It was designed to appeal to the thousands of fighter pilots leaving military service (some thought the Mooney Mite looked so much like the Messerschmitt Bf 109 that they called it the "Texas Messerschmitt".? 

The Mooney Mite established some of the design concepts still used by Mooney today. The model Mooney M20 entered production in 1955 and outwardly resembled a scaled-up Mite. Mooney is still producing variants of the M20 today. In 1984 Mooney merged with the French distribution firm Alexander Couvelaire. In July 2001 Mooney was the victim of yet another bankruptcy and the company was acquired by Advanced Aerodynamics and Structures, Inc. (AASI) in 2002. AASI resurrected Mooney under the name Mooney Aircraft Company, Inc.; a division of Mooney Aerospace Group, Ltd. 

In 2004, MASG (AASI) sold off the Mooney assets to Allen Holding Finance in May, and filed for bankruptcy on June 10. In December 2004, MASG restructured and reacquired MAC (Mooney Aircraft Company) back from Allen Holding Finance.  In November, 2004, Gretchen L. Jahn joined Mooney, becoming the first woman recruited to be CEO of a U.S. aircraft manufacturer. Jahn served for two years as a turnaround specialist, rebuilding Mooney's sales and dealer network, and after-sales service activities. She also oversaw the development and introduction of the M20TN Acclaim and the Garmin G1000-equipped Ovation2 GX and Bravo GX. In June, 2005, Mooney added a second shift and 50 new workers to boost production. 

On April 4, 2006, Mooney Airplane Company announced the release of their all-new M20TN Acclaim at the 2006 Sun 'N Fun fly-in at Lakeland, Florida. The M20TN also features the Garmin G1000 Avionics Display Suite, four heated and leather-wrapped captains chairs with lumbar support, a range in excess of 1,650 nm (400 miles greater than the Bravo GX), and a top speed of 242 knots (448 km/h) which is also 30 knots (56 km/h) faster than the Ovation 2. The Acclaim is the fastest single-engine piston-powered production aircraft in the world. 

Mooney was a publicly traded company after emerging from bankruptcy under symbol MNYG (OTC BB) until October, 2006 when Mooney Aerospace Group arranged financing to buy out public shareholders. In the fall 2007 Mooney announced the arrival of its newest model, the M20TN Acclaim Type S. The Acclaim Type S adds 5 knots (9.3 km/h) to the Acclaim's top speed, up to 242 knots (448 km/h). Mooney achieved this performance gain through aerodynamic tweaks to the Acclaim's airframe. 

On Monday 16 June 2008 Mooney announced that it would lay off 60 employees and cut production from eight aircraft per month to five. Mooney CEO Dennis Ferguson said: ?These decisions will not have an adverse effect on the quality or safety of our products, nor will they delay scheduled aircraft deliveries. They were made to create corporate resiliency in the present economic conditions.  

?Our plans include positioning Mooney as a strong contender in the international market...We are strengthening our business in Europe, South America and Australia, where Mooney's high performance, efficiency and pricing are especially appealing. Our focus is to ensure the long-term viability of the company through prudent management and expansion of our market reach.? 

The reasons for the cutbacks and layoffs cited by the company include the weak US economy and the high price of fuel inhibiting sales. On 5 November 2008 the company announced that it was halting all production and had laid off 229 of its 320 employees, due to an excess unsold inventory of aircraft as a result of the economic crisis. Virtually all the laid-off employees were on the production line. The company said all other operations would continue and that all customer support and existing customer orders would be filled.


In carrying out the lay-offs the company did not comply with the notification requirements of Texas law. In a statement Mooney said: ?These unexpected and unforeseeable conditions are beyond Mooney Airplane Company's control. It was impossible for Mooney Airplane Company to predict this sudden collapse in demand at the time when notice would have been required.? 

In a third round of lay-offs in December 2008 the company let go an additional 40 workers leaving only about 50 employees at work. The company had 25 unsold aircraft at its factory in December 2008. 

In April 2010, after 18 months of no production, the backlog of unsold aircraft was cleared and the company announced that it intended to resume aircraft production in the near future, subject to the market gaining "a little more momentum".

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