Around the beginning of this decade, a flurry of acquisitions of general aviation companies took place. In almost every case, U.S. or European investors were reluctant to step up and compete to buy these GA manufacturing assets. In only two cases did Western investors buy a GA manufacturer: MetalCraft acquired the SJ30 jet program in 2011, after its Middle East owner Emivest Aerospace declared bankruptcy; and Textron bought Hawker Beechcraft in 2014, after a Chinese company had submitted a bid for the bankrupt U.S. airframer.
The list of formerly U.S. GA companies now owned by foreign enterprises is surprisingly large. Clearly non-Western investors possess a greater appreciation for the long-term opportunities in GA manufacturing, a fact that is surprising considering that GA is such a tiny part of these countries’ industrial activities.