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Enstrom Helicopter Corp. / R.J.Enstrom Corp.

As R. J. Enstrom Corporation, was formed in 1959 by Rudy Enstrom in Menominee, Michigan to develop experimental helicopter, first flown November 1960. Developed type (F-28) flown May 1962; and deliveries of further improved F-28A began in 1968. First year's production was 43 aircraft. In 1968 first tests were made with turboshaft installation.

Enstrom sold only nine F-28s before being purchased by the Purex Corporation in early 1968, and Purex suspended all operations in February 1970.

In Janu-ary 1971, defense lawyer F. Lee Bailey purchased the majority in-terest in Enstrom and embarked on an ag-gressive reorganization and production resumed in 1971 under Enstrom Helicopter Corporation title. Between ear-ly 1972 and June 1975, the gross income of Enstrom Helicopter rose at a compounded growth rate of nearly 45 percent.

1977: Enstrom Helicopter Corporation, Menominee, Michigan, USA.

After intervening acquisitions, including operation as part of Pacific Airmotive Aerospace Group, 1980 purchase by Bravo Investments BVC of the Netherlands, and acquisition by US investors, resumed manufacture. By June 1977 the 500th Enstrom helicopter had been delivered. The Enstrom Helicopter Company, offering the piston-engined three-seat F28F (first flown December 1980 as improved F-28 type) and 280FX (available since 1985), latter based on F28F but with airframe and cabin refinements. Also offers the five-seat 480 Turbine (first flown October 1989), using an Allison turboshaft engine.

 

Enstrom was acquired by Chinese firm Chongqing General Aviation Industry Group (CGAG) in December 2012. CGAG offers a bundle of other products and services, including emergency rescue, aerial forest fire protection, agricultural spray application, aerial photography, and a host of others through its subsidiaries.
 
The new owner tried to turn the storied brand around by investing up to $8 million to upgrade Enstrom’s factory. They nearly doubled the space, expanding it to a 160,000-square-foot FAA-approved manufacturing facility. The company also hired more than 200 new employees.
 
The company showed signs of tenacity when it celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2019.
 
In 2019, the company ranked third in sales of piston helicopters, with 38 sold between 2018 and 2019, but the overall rotorcraft market was in the midst of a slump. The 2019 annual report from General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) that tracks aircraft deliveries showed that 2019 was the slowest year for rotorcraft sales in the preceding seven years.
 
Then the pandemic hit.  
 
GAMA’s data showed that from 2019 to 2020, the overall piston helicopter market sales and deliveries decreased by 20.7 percent.
 
 Enstrom
 
After nearly 65 years in business, Enstrom Helicopter Corp. closed its factory doors on 21 January 2021 after declaring Chapter 7 bankruptcy. 
 
Despite building more than 1,300 helicopters that were sold to customers in more than 50 countries, the Michigan-based company announced that “several financial difficulties,” some related to the pandemic, compelled its owners to close the company.
 
Dennis Martin, Enstrom’s director of sales, shared the news in a letter to its suppliers and dealers in which he confirmed “all existing contracts and agreements [with the company] will become null and void.”
 
All employees, about 30 in total, lost their jobs.  
 
Enstrom’s final delivery—a pair of 280FX aircraft—was to the Peruvian Air Force in December 2021. Meanwhile, Enstrom ceased its parts and overhaul supply services on January 7, before ending its technical support on January 19.
 
They have already fielded multiple requests from interested parties who would like to buy the company’s assets out of bankruptcy, and maybe invest in revamping the company.
 
In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the assets of a company are usually liquidated and the proceeds are used to pay off outstanding debt to creditors.

 

 

 
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