By James Wynbrandt
The new owners of Quicksilver Manufacturing, rechristened Quicksilver Aeronautics LLC, provided an overview at AirVenture Friday of their goals for the pioneering ultralight company and kit aircraft manufacturer.
"We feel quite confident we can do more to grow this company in order to make it more successful," said Quicksilver Aeronautics President Will Escutia.
Co-owner and Chief Operations Officer Daniel Perez said the company will "modernize manufacturing operations. We would like to incorporate best manufacturing processes." Both owners have backgrounds in high-tech manufacturing.
Quicksilver, whose sale was announced Thursday, began as a hang glider manufacturer in the late 1970s and today, with more than 15,000 aircraft delivered, stands as one of the kit-aircraft industry's most successful companies.
Its MX series includes the single-seat Sprint and Sport, two-place Sprint II, Sport II and Sport IIS, while its GT series includes the single-seat GT 400 and two-place GT 500.
But Quicksilver has not capitalized on the LSA movement, a situation the new owners aim to reverse. Quicksilver first plans to add its kit aircraft to the FAA's 51 percent list, comprised of aircraft that have proved their compliance with the agency's rule mandating that builders complete the majority of the construction of kit aircraft themselves.
"We have already submitted our application, and the FAA has assigned three evaluators for us, so we expect to receive a visit sometime in late August or early September," Perez said. "So we hope to have all seven models [added to the list] sometime later in the year."
Perez said the company also plans to introduce several of its models as LSA "in the near future."
The company hired Streamline Design to evaluate its fleet's preparedness to be introduced in the LSA category.
"We just received the first draft of the first assessment and will be working to close those gaps [identified in the evaluation]," Perez said.
Quicksilver plans to certify the GT 500 and Sport IIS as primary category aircraft, which will ease sales in Europe, which only recently recognized LSA as a legal category of aircraft. The GT 500 was actually the first aircraft certified in the primary category 25 years ago, and the company wants to ensure it continues to meet that certification standard.
Quicksilver also plans to introduce a new pricing structure to make its aircraft more affordable. Sales will be headed by Quicksilver Manufacturing veteran Todd Ellefson. The company has also been hiring production, engineering, and other personnel.
Escutia said the company will introduce a new website, improve owner's manuals and offer them in digital formats, and start a Facebook page and YouTube channel to bring "more visibility and modernization to the company."
The company will continue to operate from Temecula, California. Quicksilver aircraft are on display at the company's booth (931) and at the LSA Mall.