American Utilicraft’s full-size fuselage mockup arrived in New Orleans on September 11, to be ready for display at the scrubbed NBAA Convention. Under development for 10 years, the FF-1080 is designed to carry six fully loaded (2000-lb) LD-3 cargo containers up to 500 mi or four such containers up to 1,500 mi
Utilicraft Aerospace Industries
Lawrenceville, Ga.-based American Utilicraft, which is developing the twin-turboprop FF-1080 freight feeder, saw its share price drop from its 52-week high of $7.50 to $1.60 after September 11. In response to a Pentagon request from U.S. companies to submit proposals to combat the threat of terrorism, AUC is offering the airplane as a special-purpose aircraft to carry mail to and from U.S.
In the seven months after September 11 American Utilicraft Corp. (AUC) has been reformulating its plans, and it expects to announce “a new strategy” in about a month, according to James Carey, executive v-p and senior v-p of marketing. The company had planned on making a big marketing splash at the original NBAA show last September with its remodeled cockpit and fuselage mockup.
Overnight-package carriers FedEx, UPS and Airborne Express use big jets to move cargo between major hubs and rely on smaller piston and turboprop airplanes, such as the Cessna Caravan, to service outlying airports. Packages, which are shipped in containers on the cargo jets, must be removed from the containers and placed on pallets for loading into the smaller airplanes.
Looking for a way to secure financing to develop its twin-turboprop FF-1080 Freight Feeder, American Utilicraft (AMUC) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Averitt Express, a Tennessee trucking company. The MOU is the first step in AMUC’s plan to provide air-cargo capacity to Averitt, which wants to supplement its logistic network, now based primarily on ground transport, with more airborne freight capacity.
Freight Feeder Aircraft has purchased assets from Utilicraft and plans to move forward with development and FAA certification of the former FF1080 twin-engine unpressurized turboprop cargo carrier, now dubbed the FF5000. Prototype construction is under way, and Albuquerque, N.M.-based Freight Feeder expects to finish the prototype early next year. Utilicraft had previously announced plans to fly the airplane by the end of this year.
The Lawrenceville, Ga. developer of the proposed FF-1080-200 Freight Feeder reports being close to an announcement regarding an agreement with freight company Averitt Express of Cookeville, Tenn.
As anticipated in April, American Utilicraft of Lawrenceville, Ga., did indeed last month announce “a new aggressive strategy for deployment of the company’s first 25 FF-1080 Freight Feeder aircraft.” This strategy involves “creating alliances with potential acquisition candidates [to build an effective air-cargo company] and moving to a larger accounting firm capable of handling these types of transaction and associated regulatory issues.”
New Mexico’s license plates proclaim it to be the “Land of Enchantment.” And a growing number of business aircraft manufacturers are enchanted with New Mexico’s efforts toward becoming an “aviation cluster” of airframe manufacturers and supporting businesses.
Thirteen years after American Utilicraft filed patents for its FF-1080 Freight Feeder, “the project is moving from the design engineering phase to getting ready to start cutting metal on the prototype,” said company president and CEO John Dupont last month. Though the aftermath of 9/11 slowed development by the Lawrenceville, Ga. startup, Dupont added, he now expects a preproduction model to be airborne in about a year.