VTOL Aircraft Maker Morgan Files for Bankruptcy

 - December 29, 2015, 9:40 AM

A decade after its founding, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft manufacturer Morgan has filed for bankruptcy. Morgan Aircraft initially planned to build a VTOL business aircraft that incorporated four ducted fans into the inboard sections of the wings of a twin pusher turboprop and later went on to form alliances with other companies to build drones. Company founder Brian Morgan announced plans in 2011 to  invest up to $105 million in Sheboygan County, Wis., and create 340 new jobs there, part of an agreement to obtain a $686,000 Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation government loan. At one point the company said it planned to create as many as 2,000 new jobs. Sheboygan County spent more than $190,000 on airport improvements in anticipation of Morgan's expansion there.  But in the end, Morgan's only assets were its patents, which will now be sold to satisfy the company's various private and public debts.

In 2011 Morgan said that it had raised $8 million, had “quietly made progress toward completing its technical validation process and significant engineering advances in both the airframe and power train configurations” and was “pursuing selling technology licenses to defense industry players for defense and government agency applications.” In early 2012 Morgan announced that it had signed a “strategic cooperation agreement” with UK-based Mineseeker Operations to jointly develop an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to meet its needs “but with none of the tilting parts which have plagued other such programs in the past.”

A full-scale prototype of the Morgan EM-J aircraft never flew. The design relied on a dual propulsion system. In vertical mode, the ducted fans, what Morgan called the rotor-in-wing system, sustained hover and assisted with forward propulsion only until the aircraft was flying on its wings. Then the thruster pusher propellers were to take over. Morgan claimed this design would produce “much faster speeds and much farther distances than any of the VTOL technology currently being developed” and was the only design “capable of taking off or landing in either a helicopter mode or a fixed-wing mode and is capable of gliding in a complete power-loss condition.”