Buying a Plane - Defunct Manufacturer

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I am interested in buying Symphony 160 for training and to get a IFR ticket. The company is
out of business. An investor bought the assets and there was some talk about restarting
production before the economy turned south, but there is really no support at this time. Is
buying an aircraft with no manufacturer support a terrible idea? Is this a recipe for having a
constantly grounded aircraft?

-- Ron Van Orden, May 21, 2010


I just looked at the Wikipedia page for the Symphony 160. It does look like kind of a nice airplane. On the other hand, as Todd notes below, the fleet size is small. Aside from look cool, what does this airplane do that a Cessna 152 or Diamond DA-20 does not? The original DA-20s are wicked cheap and you may have some hassles with the certified Rotax engine but at least everyone is still in business. The support and parts network for the C152 is amazing. Not to mention STCs if you decide that you want to accomplish an unusual mission.

I hope that you don't have too much wind in your part of the country if you're going to do IFR training in a plane that weighs less than 2000 lbs.!

-- Philip Greenspun, May 21, 2010

A key factor is how many of that aircraft are in service. If it is a lot, then other companies can step in to provide parts and service. For example, there are 250+ Eclipse jets in service, and someone (maybe Hawker) will step in to provide support.

In contrast, when Adam Aircraft went bankrupt, there were only 5 A500s in service. According to AAI, which acquired the assets in bankruptcy, "There's no economic model that justifies setting up a support team to support just five planes in the field. There's no critical mass to make it economically viable."

My question would be why do you want to buy an aircraft whose manufacturer is no longer in business. If the only reason is that it is cheap, I would guess that it is cheap for a reason and you should look elsewhere.


-- Todd Ramming, May 21, 2010