It’s a 77nm flight – or over three-hour drive – from Odessa, Ukraine to the city of Kherson where Flight Design GmbH manufactures models of its series of aircraft. light sport since 1997, when the first CT was built there. . The facility pushes completed airframes ready for trucking to Germany, where final checks and test flights take place at the German company’s headquarters and other facilities.
A week after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Flight Design USA President Tom Peghiny reports that with Russian forces occupying Kherson three days ago, work has ceased as the company seeks to ensure the safety and well-being of its workforce.
Flight Design currently employs just under 200 technicians, assemblers and engineers at the Kherson plant, and according to Peghiny, the company has increased that number. “We hired more aggressively last year due to the popularity of the F2, but the other models in the range are selling well in Europe, especially the simpler and lighter models,” he said in an interview with FLYING.
A worrying and tense situation
But for now, that effort is understandably on hold. When the city of Kherson was occupied from Tuesday, a minimal team was still carrying out some final assembly tasks under supervision in the factory, with engineers working remotely. But all this ceased following the occupation.
“Luckily we have been in contact with all management and most engineers via WhatsApp or Skype and everyone is doing well at the moment,” Peghiny said. “I’ve been going there for almost 20 years,” he added, and he has many friends among the team and the community there.
Alternate plans for building planes
Flight Design intends to continue in the interim, to ensure the strength to rebuild in the times to come. “We found a site in the Czech Republic and started working there with plans to move all the staff there that we can,” Peghiny said.
“We have the ease [in Šumperk] already developing our prototype and where the EASA facility is. Flight Design CZ will continue to build the F2 and other models, with plans to begin manufacturing the first aircraft within six months.
Flight Design will be at Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo 2022 April 5-11.