Diamond Aircraft Industries
|Headquarters||Wiener Neustadt, Austria|
|Number of locations||2|
|Products||General aviation aircraft|
The company was founded as Hoffmann Flugzeugbau by Wolf Hoffmann in Friesach, Austria, in 1981, to produce the H36 all-composite motor glider. Becoming Hoffman Aircraft Limited in 1985, and a subsidiary of Simmering-Graz-Pauker AG, the company moved its headquarters to Vienna, Austria. In 1987 the company moved its factory to Wiener Neustadt, Austria. In 1991 the parent company was renamed HOAC AG and purchased by the Dries Family. In the same year, the company started development of the HK36R a Rotax 912 powered motorglider, which was the precursor to the DV20 Katana, the company's first production general aviation aircraft.
In 1992, to supply the North American market more directly, the company opened a second manufacturing facility in London, Ontario, Canada. The Canadian operation used the name Dimona Aircraft until it was changed to Diamond Aircraft in 1996, while the parent company remained HOAC.
The Austrian-built DV20 Katana was certified in 1993, and the first Canadian-built DA20 model was delivered in 1995. It received the Flight magazine's Eagle Award, for best light aircraft in the same year. 1997 marked the delivery of the 500th DV20 and the introduction of the DA20-C1, which had improved performance and load capabilities. The DA20-C1 Eclipse (an improved version of the DA20-C1) also entered production.
In 1998 the parent company was renamed Diamond Aircraft GmbH to better fit the North American operation's naming. The company also purchased the Wiener Neustadt East Airport in that same year. The DA40, a four-place IFR aircraft was certified in 2000, followed by the twin diesel engine DA42 in 2004.
In 2003 the company announced its light jet program, the Diamond D-Jet. In 2004 the company opened its new 100,000 sq ft (9,300 m2) composites facility in Austria. In 2005 the company announced a joint venture to produce the DA-40 light aircraft in China.
The company informed employees by mail in December 2008 that due to the economic situation they would be laying off 100 workers from the company's Austrian facility in Wiener Neustadt. At that time the facility employed 700 of the company's 2100 worldwide workforce.
In March 2011 the president and CEO of Diamond Aircraft Canada, Peter Maurer, indicated that his company's future was in doubt and relied on getting the D-Jet to market, as piston sales remained slow since the recession. To get the D-Jet into production the company found $20M in private investment, plus the commitment of an additional $35M from the Government of Ontario. The Ontario government investment was contingent on Diamond also securing an additional $35M from the Government of Canada. If both federal and provincial loans were provided then, combined with funds already provided, the total provincial and federal government investment would have been $100M. Maurer indicated "If we don’t get the funding from the federal government, it puts us in a difficult situation. If the D-JET, for example, in a worse case scenario, were not to continue it would have a negative impact on the rest of the company’s operations. [The debts are] at a level that would be very difficult to satisfy out of piston sales,” he said. “I’ll let you do the extrapolation."
By the end of March 2011, with a federal election in full swing and no sign of the requested federal government loans coming, the company laid-off 213 London-based employees, mostly on the D-Jet program. Company CEO Peter Maurer stated, "We are hopeful that the government will give this matter urgent attention and provide the requested assistance".
In early April 2011 Diamond indicated that it needed C$8M from the federal government over the next four months as an interim measure. Local Conservative Party of Canada Member of Parliament Ed Holder stated that Diamond owner Christian Dries had told him that Dries would close the London plant and make the announcement just before the federal election, if support was not forthcoming. Dries issued a denial of the conversation, but Holder insisted that was correct. Holder suggested that Diamond look to the province or the city for the money instead.
In mid-April Diamond CEO Peter Maurer indicated that other companies had been hiring their laid-off workers, especially engineers. Piper Aircraft announced that as many as 25 engineers may be moving to Vero Beach, Florida to work on the Piper Altaire jet. Media reports also indicated that Bombardier Aerospace may have made offers to 85 workers to work on the Learjet 85 in Wichita, Kansas. Maurer said that the loss of laid-off workers will hurt a restart of the D-Jet program should government funding be approved. He described the situation as "dire".
At the end of April 2011 Maurer issued a public appeal in the London Free Press for the C$35M loan from the Government of Canada, indicating that if it was not forthcoming that the company might cease operations. Maurer also indicated that the hiring of his laid-off staff, particularly engineers, by his competition might spell the end of the London-based operation anyway, saying "With the loss of this team, the building of a replacement team would add cost and time that the program and company may not survive." By mid-May the company had hired back 11 engineers to prevent other companies picking them up and was hoping to have a decision on the federal loan request after a new cabinet is sworn in.
Following the 2 May 2011 federal election, which returned a majority Conservative government, Industry Minister Tony Clement announced that the government had rejected Diamond's loan request. Clement said, "We are stewards of taxpayers dollars and we have risked, quite rightly, $20 million in taxpayer dollars to date, and it is not judicious to up that by another $35 million. We hope the company Diamond continues to be part of the scene in London. We do not wish for its demise." Diamond President Peter Maurer indicated that the company was still working on private investment options but that would take more time and that in the meantime they were continuing to lose their laid-off staff. He also stated "We have been very clear that without this loan, the D-Jet program is at risk here in London. Diamond’s future is at risk here." Maurer indicated that when upcoming loan repayments are due that the company cannot meet those obligations out of propeller aircraft sales and without an infusion of capital cannot get the D-Jet to market.
In analyzing the declining of the loan, Joseph D'Cruz of the University of Toronto Rotman School of Management indicated that in his opinion the government made the right decision in turning Diamond down. He said, "It's such a high risk, nobody in their right mind would invest...That particular market for that aircraft is a relatively small market and it's unproven....Could this jet go ahead without government assistance? The answer is a definite 'no,' because it's not viable without the federal government."
In late May 2011 Maurer said that he had always considered the Canadian government loans a "long shot" and that the company was looking at other sources of funding to bring the D-Jet to market, including potential Chinese investment. On 14 June 2011 the company announced that it secured private financing from an unnamed source and started recalling its workers, indicating that it would build an extra test aircraft and resume flight testing. Flight testing started again in early September 2011.
On 13 November 2011 Diamond announced that a majority share of Diamond Aircraft Holdings, Canada, the Canadian operating arm of the company, had been sold to Medrar Financial Group, an investment company based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates for an undisclosed amount. The move was intended to provide continued production of the company's piston-engine line and also allow development of the D-Jet project to continue. The announcement of the investment, along with gradually improving economic conditions, seemed to increase customer confidence as the company registered a 33% increase in sales in 2011 over the previous year. Diamond delivered 185 aircraft in 2011, compared to 139 in 2010. The sale to Medrar was never completed, though, as Medrar failed to come up with the agreed money. Diamond continued operations, using funding from its own shareholders.
In March 2012 company CEO Christian Dries indicated that the market focus of the company had been changed by the recession of 2008-10 and that the company now derives two-thirds of its revenue from military and government contracts, primarily for manned and unmanned surveillance versions of its DA42. In April 2012 the company announced the Diamond Hero, an autonomous operation helicopter unmanned aerial vehicle.
In late February 2013, having not located further operational funding after the failed sale to Medrar in 2011, the company laid off the majority of its Canadian staff and ceased work on the D-Jet program, indicating that the company needed to reorganize. Staff working on filling aircraft orders and parts support were retained. By mid-2014 some staff had returned to work.
- Diamond DA20
- Diamond DV20
- Diamond DA36 E-Star
- Diamond DA40 Star
- Diamond DA42 TwinStar
- Diamond DA50
- Diamond DA52
- Diamond HK36 Dimona
- Diamond D-Jet
- Diamond Hero - UAV
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- "FARNBOROUGH: Diamond to develop military jet version of D-Jet". Retrieved 2010-07-25.
- Diamond Aircraft Industries (2010). "Diamond Aircraft - A history". Retrieved 26 July 2011.
- Pew, Glenn (March 2011). "Diamond's Future Contingent On Loan?". AvWeb. Retrieved 21 March 2011.
- Deveau, Scott (March 2011). "Planemaker Diamond in rough shape". Financial Post. Retrieved 14 March 2011.
- Grady, Mary (March 2011). "Diamond Cuts Staff Pending D-Jet Funding". AvWeb. Retrieved 29 March 2011.
- Niles, Russ (April 2011). "Diamond May Lose Key Workers". AvWeb. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
- Niles, Russ (April 2011). "Diamond Appeals For Loan Support". AvWeb. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
- Maurer, Peter (April 2011). "Diamond isn’t just about jobs". AvWeb. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
- Pew, Glenn (May 2011). "Diamond Funding Decision Imminent?". AvWeb. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
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- De Bono, Norman (May 2011). "Maurer: Factory ‘is at risk’". London Free Press. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
- Belanger, Joe (May 2011). "We asked: Can Diamond come up with the $35 million it needs?". London Free Press. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
- Niles, Russ (May 2011). "D-Jet Financing Alternatives Explored". AvWeb. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
- Niles, Russ (June 2011). "Diamond Secures D-JET Financing". AvWeb. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
- Niles, Russ (September 2011). "Diamond Resumes D-JET Testing". AvWeb. Retrieved 5 September 2011.
- Diamond Aircraft Industries (24 February 2012). "Diamond Aircraft sales up 33% in 2011". Retrieved 24 February 2012.
- Diamond Aircraft Industries (13 November 2011). "Medrar Financial Acquires Majority Interest of Diamond Aircraft". Archived from the original on 15 April 2012. Retrieved 15 November 2011.
- De Bono, Norman (15 November 2011). "Dubai deal seals jet’s future - DIAMOND AIRCRAFT: Purchase means work in London on the D-Jet can go ahead". London Free Press. Retrieved 15 November 2011.
- Grady, Mary (15 November 2011). "Dubai Firm Buys Majority Of Diamond Aircraft". AVweb. Retrieved 15 November 2011.
- Niles, Russ (25 February 2013). "Diamond Lays Off Most Staff, Suspends D-JET". AVweb. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
- Bertorelli, Paul (13 March 2012). "Diamond's Commercial/Military Turn". AVweb. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
- Bertorelli, Paul (19 April 2012). "Diamond Announces Robotic Helicopter". AVweb. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
- Pew, Glenn (June 2011). "Hybrid Powered Aircraft In Paris". AvWeb. Retrieved 27 June 2011.
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