Angelo Fiataruolo wasn’t even supposed to be in Oshkosh this week, but after Diamond Aircraft pulled out of AirVenture at the last minute – citing a need to focus its economic resources solely on the D-Jet certification program – the president of Diamond dealer KCAC in Kansas City stepped up to the plate by taking over the OEM’s vacant spot and bringing a Diamond DA20, DA40 and DA42 to the show.
“We made the decision to come at 4 o’clock last Friday,” Fiataruolo said. “Then we had to find airplanes that we could bring.” One of them, the green-and-white DA42 at KCAC’s exhibit, is a brand new airplane just delivered to Utah Valley University.
Diamond announced a pullout from all major trade shows, including the NBAA Convention and AOPA Expo, after a hoped-for government loan failed to materialize earlier this year, forcing the company to lay off about 200 D-Jet workers. Diamond has secured other funding and is in the process of bringing back as many workers as possible to restart the single-engine jet’s development.
The decision to skip major U.S. aviation shows is one that Fiataruolo, the former CEO of Pilatus North America, says he doesn’t agree with, but also understands. “They need to focus all of their energies on getting the D-Jet certified,” he said. “I get that. But Diamond also needs to have a presence at the big North American shows, even if it that just means parking a few airplanes on the static display.”
Since he was in Oshkosh anyway, Fiataruolo decided to hold a press conference at AirVenture on Wednesday. But rather than talk about Diamond Aircraft or focus on the growth of his company, he used his time at the podium to blast President Obama for recent comments that have been critical of business jet users.
“General aviation jobs are highly skilled, well-paid manufacturing jobs,” he said. “These jobs sound exactly like the jobs President Obama described just recently – June 24, when he said he was looking for ways to create more quality manufacturing jobs, make our businesses more competitive, and above all, renew the promise of American manufacturing.”
His advice for the president? “Stop the rhetoric [and] just leave us alone so that we can once again do our part to help the country dig out of our current economic mess.”