There could still be a business jet made in Iowa. VisionAire announced this week it’s declaring Chapter Eleven bankruptcy, as fundraising lags and development’s behind schedule for a light aircraft it proposes to build in Ames. Mark Reinig, the economic development coordinator for the city of Ames, says planners got as far as as making a spot for their factory. They put up a manufacturing building in Ames, 90,000 square feet with a 15,000-square foot hangar. The bigger building’s rented out for storage right now, at the Ames municipal airport. They got so close, Reinig says Ames residents got a demonstration of the VisionAire jet. They did test flights in Ames, but the plane didn’t meet some design requirements. Reinig says open land near the airport, and Iowa State University’s engineering work with composites — a high-tech material used in building modern planes — attracted planners, who found investors by 1994. They created about seven jobs, office and administrative-type ones, and were awaiting approval of the plans by the FAA, but had to go back to the drawing board when it failed certification for weight and stall characteristics. The business-jet idea isn’t dead with the announcement of Chapter 11, and Reinig says it’s too early to sell off the buildings at the Ames airport. He says it’d be a joint decision between the city and investors, though VisionAire still thinks it can pay off creditors and build the planes.
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