Kestrel Aircraft Evicted from Maine Hangar; Wisconsin Files Lawsuit

Klapmeier says there’s much more to the story.

Kestrel
Kestrel Aircraft's future remains uncertain amid its eviction from Brunswick Landing and a Wisconsin lawsuit.Kestrel Aircraft

A number of media outlets in Maine have, over the past few weeks, reported significant financial troubles for Kestrel Aircraft, one of two companies created under the One Aviation parent in 2015. One Aviation is headed by Alan Klapmeier, former co-founder of the successful Cirrus Aircraft company he left in 2009. One Aviation also builds the Eclipse light jet and has been hard at work bringing the updated version of the Eclipse 550, called the Canada, to market.

The Bangor Daily News reported Kestrel was recently evicted from hangar facilities at Brunswick Landing, the old Brunswick Naval Air station. In late September, the paper also reported Kestrel had failed to meet employee payroll and health insurance payments to the dozen or so employees left of the original 40 once employed at Brunswick. The executive director of the Midcoast Redevelopment Authority that runs Brunswick Landing wouldn't confirm the exact amount of back rent owed, but did tell the Falmouth Forecaster that Kestrel's annual rent totaled $85,000. When Kestrel opened its doors at Brunswick in the summer of 2010, Klapmeier said he hoped to bring as many as 300 jobs to the new enterprise. Those jobs never materialized.

Despite a number of tax credits given to Kestrel by the State of Maine, the company in 2012 moved much of its production work to Superior Wisconsin where Kestrel again received tax incentives and loans from that state. On Thursday, the State of Wisconsin filed suit against Kestrel because five years after inking the original agreement, not a single building has been erected on the Superior site. The Portland Press Herald reported Thursday that while Kestrel did repay approximately $865,000 of Wisconsin's loan to the company, it has made no payments since November 2016.

One outlet reported a memo from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. claiming the state was taking action because of “Kestrel’s inability to show measurable progress toward obtaining financing.” Additionally, the Grand Rapids Airport in Michigan last year approved $1.5 million in public financing for Kestrel although the company never actually accepted the funding.

In the BDN, a former employee, who preferred to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, said a Kestrel administrator told employees last month that "the company could get funding at any time and that could clear things up." How the financial issues at Kestrel might affect Eclipse production is unclear.

In a brief voicemail response to Flying, Klapmeier said, "There is much more to the economic development issues surrounding Kestrel than anyone knows," adding that "the explanation would require more time than a brief telephone call."