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Tue, Aug 26, 2008

Adam A500 Owners Form Group To Pressure AAI

Want New Company To Support Customer Twins

For the five customers who managed to take delivery of Adam A500 piston inline-twin-engined aircraft, before that planemaker declared bankruptcy earlier this year, they have what amount to $1.25 million lawn ornaments... planes that can't fly, without support from the manufacturer.

And for the Russian-backed company that now owns many of Adam's assets, those planes mark a chapter of Adam's history they'd just as soon forget.

"It's grounded," A500 owner Mike Hackett told The Denver Post of his plane, now sitting on an airport ramp near Napa, CA. "I can't fly it." Hackett notes some components on the plane have life-limits as low as 60 flight hours... and only the manufacturer can replace them.

But Adam Aircraft doesn't exist anymore. As ANN reported, AAI Acquisition bought much of the defunct Adam Aircraft company in April, with the intent to continue certification efforts for the A700 very-light-jet.

As for the already-certified A500 piston twin -- on which the A700 is heavily-based -- AAI announced at Oshkosh last month it won't build any more planes, beyond the seven Adam assembled prior to its February entry into Chapter 7 liquidation.

Of those seven aircraft, five were delivered. In addition to Hackett's plane, A500s were delivered to owners in Colorado and California. The New Mexico State Police department had the dubious honor of receiving the last A500 before Adam folded.

Four of those owners, including Hackett and the NMSP, have since banded together to form the A500 Owners Association, with the sole purpose to pressure AAI to reconsider its stance, and support A500s.

Trouble is, there's little financial incentive for AAI to ramp up a dedicated customer service department and support staff -- nevermind technical training and insurance coverage -- to support a middling fleet of five aircraft. AAI's only obligation to A500 owners is to address any safety issues raised by the FAA.

"There's no economic model that justifies setting up a support team to support just five planes in the field. There's no critical mass to make it economically viable," said Jan D'Angelo, a former Adam Aircraft worker and now head of customer support at AAI. "We're the lighting rod for their ire right now because they got burned by the prior company.

"I don't think there's anyone with this company that doesn't sympathize with them ... but it is not our responsibility to support these owners," D'Angelo added. "The previous company is responsible for putting them in the position they're in today."

Kay Ardalan, Adam's former vice president of customer support, is one of two former Adam workers who are working with A500 owners in their quest to put pressure on AAI, and the FAA. "Without the manufacturer's support, these guys are dead in the water," he said.

FMI: www.adamaircraft.com/

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