In the Works: American Utilicraft FF-1080-200
In the seven months after September 11 American Utilicraft Corp. (AUC) has been reformulating its plans, and it expects to announce “a new strategy” in about a month, according to James Carey, executive v-p and senior v-p of marketing. The company had planned on making a big marketing splash at the original NBAA show last September with its remodeled cockpit and fuselage mockup. In fact, it was one of the few exhibitors to get its exhibit in place and assembled before NBAA had to postpone the event to December because of the terrorist attacks in the U.S.; AUC did not attend the rescheduled convention.
Less than a month after September 11, AUC announced that its negotiations with North Atlantic Industries (NAI) of the Netherlands had terminated. On July 30 last year, the companies had signed a non-binding letter of intent that would have made NAI the European distributor of the FF-1080-200 Freight Feeder. The letter included delivery of 25 airplanes and options for 25 more. As John Dupont, president and CEO of AUC, explained at the time, “During the course of the negotiations, we became concerned that NAI lacked certain key financial elements and capabilities, which were necessary to move forward.” Said Carey, “AUC had asked for a $1 million letter of credit from NAI, but they could not provide it.” AUC continues to work on additional funding.
Part of the company’s new plan is to build a production-conforming prototype as the first flying aircraft, in contrast to its original plan to build a POC airplane (just the opposite of Aerostar). Carey said the company figures this will save almost a year of development time, although it will require more upfront funding and would delay first flight to late next year, from the previously estimated second quarter of that year. But, Carey said, by doing more development work up front, “we may be able to keep the late-2004 certification date.”