Dear Van’s Aircraft Customers,
We need to share some difficult information about the status of Van’s Aircraft, and we invite you to watch this brief video from Dick VanGrunsven, founder of Van’s Aircraft and principal designer of the line of RV airplanes.
As the result of a number of factors, Van’s currently faces serious cash flow issues, which must be addressed quickly to ensure ongoing operations. We are confident we can work through this situation, but some changes are required.
To help us with the needed financial analysis, planning, and operational improvements, we’ve assembled a small team of experienced advisors to assist us. Starting today through mid-November, Van’s will be focused on assessing the internal changes necessary to address these issues. This means some of the typical day-to-day operations at Van’s will be affected while our team develops plans to correct the problem.
During this period, shipments will be delayed, kit orders will not be processed, and refunds will not be issued. We will be unable to conduct factory tours and demo flights.
We are adjusting our daily operating hours. Starting Monday, October 30th we will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time each business day. Our builder technical support hours will shift to 8:00 to 9:30 a.m. and 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. each business day. This is a permanent change.
All of us at Van’s truly appreciate and value the loyalty and confidence you have shown us over the years. We will provide further information on the findings and conclusions from our assessment, including any changes that might affect you.
Questions & Answers
Q: How did this happen to Van’s?
A combination of significant events over a relatively short period of time has increased costs, doubled normal inventory levels, slowed deliveries, and strained our cash flow to the breaking point.
Pandemic Driven Costs: As with many businesses, the pandemic placed a financial strain on our company due to a variety of required operational changes, supply chain issues, and shutdowns. Orders increased dramatically, requiring us to hire and train more staff. Wages increased, and shipping costs rose greater than five-fold. Stated simply: without realizing it, we were selling kits below our cost.
Primer-Affected Quick Build Costs: At the same time, we learned that one of our overseas contractors had used an inferior primer, resulting in aluminum corrosion forming on a large number of quick build kits. This required us to scrap many kits, while further increasing production to replace affected kits. This alone represented a multi-million-dollar setback for us.
Outsourced Parts Issues: As we fell behind on shipping orders, we made the decision to outsource some aluminum parts manufacturing, which increased our manufacturing costs for those parts. The only timely option was to have some of our parts laser-cut rather than CNC-punched. We received reports from customers that they were observing small cracks at the edges of some holes on these parts. We researched the issue and engaged in extensive testing. The information we communicated to our customers about this issue changed as we discovered many of the parts met our design requirements. Although our testing proved that laser-cut parts are functionally equivalent to punched parts, the belief among many builders is that they are unsuitable for use. This has resulted in an unmanageable number of requests to replace laser-cut parts and cancel orders. More than 1,800 customers are currently affected by this issue, some of whom have received more than one kit.
Q: Why are you completing an internal assessment?
Van’s Aircraft faces several challenges that require us to take time between now and mid-November to perform an internal assessment of our inventory, production, and shipping capabilities as well as overall operating efficiencies. During this time, we will be evaluating all reasonable means of satisfying builder concerns regarding laser-cut parts. At the same time, we will be reviewing the costing of our parts and kits.
Q: When will the assessment be over?
We expect to complete the assessment by mid-November.
Q: Will prices go up?
We are reviewing our cost and pricing structure, and prices are likely to increase. We will work to keep our prices as low as we can while maintaining the highest quality products and services.
Q: Can I get a refund?
We are not issuing refunds during the internal assessment period.
Q: Can I return my kit/parts?
We are not currently processing requests for cancellations or returns, including those for laser-cut parts. We will address these through our laser-cut parts replacement program, which our team is working to finalize during this assessment period.
Q: What if I need to order parts?
You may place orders for parts, but your shipment may be delayed due to temporary employee reassignments during assessment. We will do our best to ensure timely parts shipment.
Q: When will I receive my kit/parts order?
We are working hard to resolve our production issues and to resume filling orders for kits and parts as soon as possible. Over the next few weeks, many of our staff members will be working on special assignments, which will delay shipping in many cases. We will update you on our progress and timing when we know more.
Q: When will I receive my laser-cut parts replacements?
We are currently working to produce replacements for laser-cut parts classified as “Replacement Recommended.” Due to the very large number of parts needed for more than 1,800 affected customers, this production process will take some time. We have not yet started shipping these parts under our replacement program, and we are doing everything we can to produce them as soon as possible. We will update you regarding our progress and timing at the end of this assessment phase, and we will post updates on the web page established for that program as we know more.
Q: I have submitted my request for laser-cut replacement parts. What else do I need to do?
If you have visited the customer portal and submitted a list of parts you wish to request for replacement, you do not need to take further action at this time. If you have not yet completed that step, please do so now.
Q: I have a kit that contains laser-cut parts, but I did not receive an email with a link to the portal for affected customers. How can I get that?
Please visit https://partsprogram.vansaircraft.com/ and enter your information. If we have an order on record for you, we will email you a link. If the information entered does not match our system, we will review your request and reach out.
Q: How can I learn more?
Our ability to answer calls and emails is limited during this assessment period. We will share available information as it becomes available on our website at vansaircraft.com.