Tamarack Aerospace files for bankruptcy reorganization
Decision a direct result of grounding of jets by two aviation regulatory bodiesJune 20th, 2019
Sandpoint, Idaho-based aerospace manufacturing company Tamarack Aerospace Group has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Jacob Klinginsmith, vice president and chief engineer of Tamarack, says the decision is a direct result of the issuance of airworthiness directives by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and Federal Aviation Administration that effectively grounded a fleet of Cessna CitationJets with Tamarack manufactured winglets installed due to safety concerns.
Tamarack manufactures and installs its Atlas winglets, which are aerodynamic additions to the ends of wings that reduce drag and improve the lift distribution over the wing that are specially designed for the Cessna CitationJets. The Cessna CitationJets are manufactured by Textron Aviation, a former installer of Tamarack’s, and are the only aircraft currently certified to have Atlas winglets installed.
The company says the decision to enter a Chapter 11 bankruptcy will allow it to continue to operate and focus all activities on supporting its Atlas winglet customers.
To that end, Tamarack already is restructuring and exploring cost-saving measures, Klinginsmith says. Those measures include looking at financing and investment options, expanding engineering services to outside companies, and subleasing portions of its 14,000-square-foot facility located at 2021 Industrial Drive, in Sandpoint.
The company also has reduced its staff, including the layoffs of the company’s president, chief financial officer, and vice president of marketing, among other positions, some of which Klinginsmith notes were voluntary dismissals.
With the dismissal of the company’s president, Brian Cox, company founder Nicholas Guida has stepped into the role of president.
Currently, the company has about 16 employees, he says, down from 25 employees at the start of the year. Klinginsmith notes that the company had been undergoing staff reductions prior to filing bankruptcy.
The EASA issued its airworthiness directive in late April, stating “occurrences have been reported in which Atlas appears to have malfunctioned, causing upset events, where, in some cases, the pilots had difficulty to recover the aeroplane to safe flight.”
Atlas is Tamarack’s proprietary name for its winglet-control system.
The directive also notes that the EASA is still investigating the causes of the reported events.
The EASA allows the continued flying of the Atlas-equipped jets, provided the operators disabled the Atlas winglets and secure certain surfaces using what’s called speed tape.
The FAA followed suit in late May, although it didn’t approve the use of speed tape as a temporary fix and prohibited any further operation of the 76 Atlas-equipped jets in the U.S., with the exception of approved ferry flights, until an FAA-approved modification is installed.
Tamarack notes that prior to the directives, the company issued two service bulletins that offered upgrades free of charge, which involve the replacement of a screw inside the control unit and installation of aerodynamic centering strips.
At the time of the posting, only the replacement bulletin was mandatory. Since then, Tamarack has upgraded both bulletins to mandatory and available for free.
Klinginsmith says Tamarack currently has enough inventory to be able to upgrade all of its customers who have yet to do so.
“We continue to reach out and work with our customers,” he says. “We are committed to the safety of our fleet and to our customers, and we’re continuing to keep our customers posted.”