Air Transport World

Fairchild Aircraft sees positive results with diversification; but company returns to black ink on Metro III wings; plans product improvements.

Fairchild Aircraft sees positive results with diversification San Antonio--The rollout of the first corporate Saab SF-340 in late November held little significance for the commuter airline industry. But for Fairchild Aircraft Corp., which sells and finishes corporate SF-340s in North America, delivery represented successful diversification efforts designed to strengthen the company.

Last year new orders for more than 60 Metro IIIs and its cargo variant, the Expediter, breathed new life into FAC and helped it turn its first profit since 1981.

Successful sales of the corporate Saab SF-340 bolstered company diversity sought by FAC President Tom Smith. And operating companies which strengthened FAC's diversification included Sat-Air, a fleet operating company, and GenAero, an aircraft completion center.

Also FAC received Federal Aviation Administration certification of its Pratt & Whitney-powered Metro IIIA in October. Although FAC held no orders for the IIIA, one company executive said its development achieved desired results: nudging Garrett to improve support for its TPE331 engines which power all other Metros and the corporate Merlins. FAC officials now label Garrett's support "excellent."

All this spells good news for FAC and Smith, who joined the company in mid-1984 with the expressed task of raising efficiency, lowering costs and returning the company to profitability. "So far, we've managed to get to where we wanted to go," Smith told ATW.

The strength of FAC's 1985 sales and Smith's diversification plans combined to prompt Fairchild Industries, FAC's corporate parent, to rethink plans to sell the San Antonio manufacturer. "Fairchild Aircraft isn't for sale," Smith confidently said. "We haven't entertained any tire kickers, much less offers to buy Fairchild Aircraft. …

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