Three aviation companies and the Experimental Aircraft Association have joined forces to help orphaned Kitfox customers obtain engines for their airplanes.
When SkyStar Aircraft Corp. declared bankruptcy last month, it left dozens of Kitfox builders in the lurch who had paid for, but not received, their Rotax engines.
As unsecured creditors, their chances of receiving engines, let alone recovering their money, are slim at best.
Rotax Austria, its U.S., Central and South American distributor, Kodiak Research Ltd. of Nassau, Bahamas, and Sport Plane LLC of Meridian, Idaho, are working with the EAA to assemble a one-time bulk purchase with special pricing for 912S Rotax engines.
Coordinating the effort is John McBean, who worked at SkyStar before leaving in 2004 to found Sport Plane LLC, which provides builders assistance and after-market parts for tube and fabric experimental aircraft with an emphasis on the Kitfox line.
When McBean learned SkyStar was closing its doors, he contacted Eric Tucker at Kodiak Research to determine the feasibility of creating an outlet for parts and builders assistance for the now orphaned Kitfoxes. They contacted the EAA and learned that the EAA had heard from many Kitfox builders who were wondering what was to happen to those builders whose aircraft were still under construction.
McBean notes that some aircraft owners may be surprised to learn that the Rotax 912S needs a special engine mount to mate it to the Kitfox airframe.
“That’s going to sneak up on some people,” he said. Kitfox builders often bought their engines through SkyStar because mount issues were resolved at the factory.
McBean plans to negotiate with Rotax for a special price for the engines, but to do that he needs to know how many Kitfox owners are out there.
“We will use that information to negotiate the best price,” he says.
The EAA is steering owners to McBean. “We are trying to get word out to everyone who is affected to contact John McBean,” said EAA’s Charlie Becker. “Ideally this would be a one-time purchase. Even if the builders are not ready for the engine now, we need to know they are out there.”
McBean notes that owners will have to prove they paid for but did not receive an engine from SkyStar to take advantage of the deal.
“We understand that people may be reluctant to shell out more money,” he notes, “but they need to understand that whatever the cost comes out to be, that money will be placed into an escrow account and not touched until the engines are ready.”