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ONE Aviation Continues to Peruse its Effort on Two Fronts

By James Wynbrandt

  • One Aviation
    An Eclipse SE sits outside the One Aviation exhibit.
July 23, 2015 - “There’s general confusion about some of the things we’re doing,” said Alan Klapmeier, kicking of his ONE Aviation presentation here at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. Since 2010 Klapmeier, co-founder with brother Dale of Cirrus Aviation (nee Cirrus Design) has been CEO of Kestrel Aircraft Co., developer of the high-performance single-engine turboprop Kestrel. But at Aero Friedrichshafen in Austria this April, Kestrel Aircraft and Eclipse Aerospace, manufacturer of the Eclipse 550 light jet, announced they were joining to form ONE Aviation, with Klapmeier as its CEO. Ever since, many in the industry have been asking about ONE’s purpose and plans. Klapmeier still seems to be formulating an answer.

“The idea of ONE Aviation is, how do we build a better aircraft company?” he said. “The way I describe this for simplicity, think of it as a merger, but it isn’t a merger. ONE Aviation is a holding company that will own Kestrel, Eclipse,” and other aviation entities and aircraft lines ONE sees in its future. When asked whether ONE would develop these additional aircraft itself or gain them through acquisition of other companies, Klapmeier said, “Yes.”

Meanwhile, ONE remains in its formative stages. “All the paperwork isn’t done,” Klapmeier said, and admitted that the process is not without “a lot of frustration,” noting the difficulty of “merging the cultures” of the two organizations. Moreover, ONE’s financial executives ask pesky questions such as “Why do you need engineers at Oshkosh?” Klapmeier’s answer: “Well, customers like to talk to engineers, and engineers need to see everything going on. And that starts at Oshkosh–you’ve got to see all this stuff. So ONE Aviation and Oshkosh will be a recurring theme in what you see in the future.”

Meanwhile, Eclipse has delivered about a dozen jets over the past year and plans to deliver “probably twice as many” next year, Klapmeier said, while Kestrel won’t take orders until it’s further along in the development process. Underpinning the entire enterprise is Klapmeier’s unshakable faith: “I believe strongly in the value of general aviation,” he said. “It’s a fantastic way to improve your life.”
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