NEW OWNERs PLEDGE SUPPORT
As from 1st September 2020, a group of U.S.-based general aviation aircraft owners and pilots have taken majority ownership of aircraft manufacturer Mooney International.
The aircraft owners and pilots took control of the cash-strapped company, and pledged to maintain customer support through the transition and into the future. Mooney Acclaim aircraft owner, pilot, and CEO Jonny Pollack is part of an investor group with an 80-percent stake in the company that was previously owned by Chinese investors and mostly shuttered in early January with two partially completed aircraft still on the factory floor. In a letter Pollack said,
“Reports of Mooney’s death are greatly exaggerated. Mooney is, in fact, very much alive, up and running.”
The transition includes new management made up entirely of pilots and Mooney owners giving the company a unique and valuable perspective going forward.
Mooney pilots prize their aircraft for their economy and stoutness. Ailerons are activated by pushrods for instant response. Low-slung seats and a flight deck cocoon cradle the occupants and give the speedy airplane a sports car feel.
- The flagship M20 Ovation Ultra is priced at $719,000, and
- The Acclaim Ultra for $799,000.
All now have two entry doors.
Mooney service center expert Don Maxwell, who leads owner-maintenance seminars, offered words of encouragement for the Mooney community. He praised Pollack as a pilot who “just loves airplanes” and has intentions of supporting the latest Garmin-equipped digital cockpit “long-body” Acclaim and Ovation models as well as the popular line of older retractables, including more than 1,400 M20J models and countless more of the popular “short body” M20C, -E, -F, and -G models.
Maxwell, a Texan who professed a love for Mooney’s that began in 1968 said “This has been a rocky road. Plans for a weight increase on the newer models could open the aircraft up to parachutes and anything else that technology might bring.”
The weight increase (which has long been advocated by owners), is retro-fittable back to the 205 model and owners are super excited about the potential useful load and safety benefits. This measure could put the manufacturer on solid ground to battle market leader Cirrus Aircraft’s whole-airplane parachute safety message. Pollack says,
” Everybody pours their heart and soul into every aircraft. The problem with that is while we’re pouring our heart and soul into it, our competition is pouring plastic into a mould.”
Pollack became involved with the company in 2019 when financial troubles resurfaced amid a trade war between the United States and China. Factory workers were initially caught off-guard when the company furloughed staff in November last year. Workers were then called back in December to hand-drive rivets and curve sheet metal, and then once again given time off for the winter holidays. When they returned, they were abruptly told to go home, again. Pollack and his team have been running the company since January 2020, making parts and keeping the brand alive. Pollack says further,
“I’m a Mooney owner, and in all candour, I never had an intimate relationship with the company. I want to change that. I want the company to be transparent. I want to reach out to the community.”
Pollack owned a Mooney M20J 201 for 15 years before upgrading to an Acclaim. “It’s the greatest airplane on the planet. As far as the durability, the way it flies, and the efficiency, you just can’t beat a Mooney, you can’t even come close. If you’ve ever seen how these things are built, they’re like a Ferrari in the sky.”
Projects under development include:
- A weight-saving carbon cowl for Ovation models.
- A useful load increase of 300 pounds to 500 pounds to the Ovation, and other models.
- Whole-airplane parachute system.
- New landing gear designs.
The goal is to make Mooney aircraft and Mooney International more competitive. Another new idea the company is considering, is Mooney engineers scouring airframes to rehab them in-house and warranty the aircraft for one year. This would be a factory certification process that would increase an aircraft’s value and provide owners with additional security. More distant plans include the potential for a weight increase on the J model, and converting the Mooney M20J 201 into a training platform.
Pollack reiterated, however, that the biggest message to Mooney owners is to “be patient” because the changes are “going to take a minute.” All of the resources are “literally going to keeping the lights on, and to make sure we have parts availability, and I’m going to fight like the dickens to make it happen.”
All this means the Kerrville, Texas, factory will soon be humming with activity to help keep the 7,000 aircraft fleet in the air.
Mooney International is pledging to support airplane owners, provide transparency, and make Mooney more competitive. Pollack stressed that supporting the existing fleet of aircraft owners around the world, remains their top priority.