Mooney Aircraft, a builder of high-end small aircraft, has furloughed all of its employees and has shuttered operations at its Kerrville plant.
The company’s voice messaging system says “All Mooney employees have been furloughed,” and it’s unclear what the future holds for the company. No one from Mooney was available for comment.
Kerrville Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Walt Koenig said it’s his opinion Mooney will be back, because of the company’s history of success in building planes. For years, Mooney planes were known for their speed, handling and precision.
“That’s an opinion-based comment,’’ said Koenig, adding that Mooney’s production facilities and reputation have tremendous value. “I think they will be back.’
The company has been producing planes since the 1960s and has become a custom-builder of high performance propeller aircraft. However, the company has had a long history of financial troubles and ownership troubles.
The company was acquired in 2013 by a Taiwanese company called Soaring America Aircraft, which was headquartered in California. The company infused capital into Mooney but ultimately closed its research facility in Chino, Calif. The company previously furloughed employees in 2017.
Company founder Al Mooney moved the production of airplanes to Kerrville in 1953, but soon exited the company leading to a string of owners through the years. The company has had 11 owners since its arrival in Kerrville and three bankruptcies, and repeated problems with production and capitalization.
Koenig said the Chamber and EDC is confident that the Kerrville area is a strong place to site manufacturing.
“We’re also working hard to develop new manufacturing opportunities,” Koenig said.
At its height, Mooney employed more than 300 people in Texas and California. The planes were considered to be some of the finest on the market, but the company was slowly building customized planes versus mass production.
Just last month in Florida, more than 100 owners of Mooney aircraft gathered to celebrate the plane.
“It’s sort of like the Porsche of the aviation world,” pilot Ron Dubin told Panama City Beach television station WMBB.
“It’s an amazing tool,” said Andrew Hyett, another pilot from the United Kingdom told WMBB. “It is a car with wings.”
In 2017, Mooney was in talks to build a vertical take off and landing aircraft that could help support Uber’s flying car initiatives, but that never came to fruition.