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Aircraft manufacturers with facilities in Ukraine under threat

German company Flight Design employs nearly 200 people at an aircraft production facility in Ukraine. Flight Design USA President Tom Peghiny said the firm is deeply concerned about its employees.

“We know them very well,” Peghiny said. “Some have been with the company more than 20 years. We’re good friends, and we take this very personally.”

The Flight Design factory is located in Kherson, a city of 300,000 people in the southeastern portion of Ukraine that’s currently encircled by Russian troops. The factory remains open for business, however, and workers are manufacturing airplanes as best they can.

Flight Design USA has about 25 airplanes on order.

Flight Design was in the process of expanding aircraft production to a second facility in the Czech Republic before the invasion, and that shift continues.

“We’ve installed some of the tooling in the Czech Republic already and will continue filling that out,” Peghiny said. “We’re hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.”

Dennis Long, a dealer for Aeroprakt, a manufacturer of light sport aircraft in Ukraine, said he spoke with factory officials who said they plan to remain on the job.

“They told me they’re going to keep making airplanes until they can’t,” he said. “For the time being, it’s business as usual, although my next two airplanes will likely have to be shipped from Poland because the port of Odessa is closed.”

Long is based in Searcy, Arkansas, and sells about a dozen two-seat Aeroprakt A22s and A23s a year. Business has been extremely good recently and he’s currently sold out through the end of 2022.

“Sales have been great,” he said. “Right now, due to all the uncertainty, I’m not taking any new deposits. I’m more concerned about the people over there than the airplanes at this moment.”

Epic Aircraft, maker of a single-engine turboprop in Bend, Oregon, is controlled by a holding company owned by Vladislav Filev, a Russian oligarch with multiple aerospace firms known as the “Russian Elon Musk.” Filev owns S7 Airlines, Russia’s largest private passenger carrier, and S7 Technics, a major aircraft maintenance firm. Filev is a graduate of the former Soviet Union’s military space academy in St. Petersburg and later became chairman of a Russian investment firm. Epic Aircraft received an FAA type certificate and production approval for its carbon fiber E1000 GX, which cruises up to 333 KTAS and has a ceiling of 34,000 feet.

The Bend Bulletin reported February 22 that Epic has ramped up production following a slowdown forced by the coronavirus pandemic, and expects to complete 20 aircraft this year, doubling that production rate to 40 aircraft in 2023. 

Epic Aircraft Director of Sales and Marketing Mike Schrader said in an email exchange that the situation in Ukraine was not expected to impact the company.

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