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Sport Pilot News > News Archive

03/31/05 - POWRACHUTE REDUCES STAFF; NOT TAKING NEW ORDERS

Sale of Company Possible

Powrachute owner Bill Amyx confirmed to EAA Thursday that the sale of the company is imminent and the staff, reduced from 14 employees down to five, is currently only filling parts orders for the Powrachute line of powered parachutes. The company is not taking new orders. Amyx was quick to clarify that the company is not filing bankruptcy. “No one will be left hanging,” Amyx said.

Amyx, who’s been attempting to sell the company for a couple of years, added that a new investor is considering buying the company. According to Amyx and other sources close to Powrachute, it’s expected the deal could be closed as early as next week. If the sale is not completed, Amyx indicated he would eventually close the company. “I can’t afford to stay in business indefinitely to make replacement parts,” he said.

Amyx pointed to a downturn in business as his reason for limiting the company’s operations. “When you go from selling a machine a day to selling one a week, you can’t stay in business. I don’t know all the causes of this [downturn], but I think in three to five years, after the sport pilot rule has settled out, business will be better. But, I’m 65 years old; if I was 45 I’d probably stay with it. I just don’t have the time to wait for business to come back.”

Other sources quoted the company’s sales as dropping from nearly 200 in 2003 to about 125 in 2004, and that downturn was continuing in 2005.

Continuing his discussion about the industry, Amyx added, “I think the sport pilot rule is going to be fantastic for the fixed-wing aircraft, but there’s no real advantage in having more weight and more fuel for powered parachutes. If FAA, EAA or anyone wants to see powered parachutes stay around, they have to raise the Part 103 weight limit for single-seat machines to 350 pounds. It is not possible to build a safe powered parachute at 254 pounds. You can’t build a strong enough frame and that weight limits you to powering the aircraft with a Rotax 447 engine, which has a single carburetor and a single ignition, and that’s not safe.

“There may be some benefits for powered parachutes under sport pilot, but it’s going to take a long time to get all the examiners, instructors, and airworthiness inspectors in place for the system to be working. I know it will happen, but it will take time, and I don’t have that kind of time. I have some other projects I want to direct my attention to. I’ve made a lot of friends in this industry and community, and I will miss being an active part of it, but I didn’t get into this business to lose money, and that’s what’s happened.”

Amyx stated that if the sale of the company goes through, he expects the new owners would exhibit at the upcoming Sun’n Fly-In, April 22-18. “If the sale doesn’t go through, Powrachute won’t be there.” Similarly, the fate of the Powrachute Extravaganza rests in the hands of any potential new owners. “The Extravaganza was probably the best part of owning the company,” Amyx said. “We enjoyed bringing all the powered parachute enthusiasts together, but even that was becoming more difficult. Our insurance company was becoming more and more restrictive about what they would allow.”

EAA will continue to monitor the Powrachute situation and will provide updates on
www.eaa.org.


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