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Ayres Loadmaster LM200A Case Study

Ayres Loadmaster LM200A
Case Study - Dedicated Air Cargo Aircraft Acquisition and Development

CAV 670 Air Cargo
Summer I 2014

Robert Petty

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Ayres Loadmaster LM200A Case Study

Introduction 3
The Ayres Corporation and the Loadmaster LM200 4
The Financial Load of the Loadmaster 16
The Legacy of the Loadmaster 19
References 21
Appendix 22

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Ayres Loadmaster LM200A Case Study

The design and manufacture of a dedicated air cargo aircraft is considered an exceptionally risky
venture, especially when one considers that most cargo aircraft are derivatives of older and less
expensive passenger aircraft, which in comparison, results in the higher acquisition cost for the new
dedicated cargo aircraft. Recovering those costs require that the aircraft have exceptional payload
capacity and efficient operational economies to make it competitive over the life of the aircraft. Often,
new technologies are the catalyst for the development of a dedicated aircraft that can exploit the
emerging technology and seize market advantage. Some in the air cargo industry have argued that “the
growth (of the air cargo) industry has been hampered by the lack of aircraft optimized to fulfill cargo
carrying requirements.”
The debate over the efficiency and profitability of a dedicated air cargo aircraft continues today. This
paper addresses the issue of designing and developing a dedicated air cargo aircraft through an
examination of the Ayres Loadmaster LM200 aircraft program. Contracted to develop the freight hauling
aircraft for the Federal Express, Corporation (FedEx), the Ayres aircraft company began experiencing
problems in financing and debt management and is an interesting example of the problems associated
with dedicated cargo aircraft financing. This case study will describe the Ayres Corporation, its
manufacturing heritage, the FedEx agreement for the Loadmaster LM200, Ayes financial situation, and
the ultimate disposition of the freighter design.
Throughout this case study attempts will be made to clarify the actions of the Ayres Corp., its
strategic decision-making rationale, and the financial instruments used to develop the air cargo design.
This document also serves to record the history of the Loadmaster program as individuals directly
involved in the Ayres Corporation and the development of the Loadmaster LM200 were interviewed for
this paper.
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Ayres Loadmaster LM200A Case Study

The Ayres Corporation and the Loadmaster LM200
The Snow S-2A agricultural aircraft, designed by Leland Snow in 1958, was a successful design that
was sold to Aero Commander, Inc. of Bethany, Oklahoma in 1965. Two years later Aero Commander is
bought by North American Rockwell, where the design is modified to include electric flaps, enclosed
cockpit and enlarged chemical hopper. The construction of the aircraft was undertaken at an Albany,
Georgia manufacturing plant and the aircraft renamed the S-2R Thrush Commander. In 1977 Rockwell
sold the type certificate to its Thrush Commander to their largest distributer, Fred Ayres of the Ayres
Ayres modified the aircraft to include a 750shp PT6A turboprop and began selling 50 to 70 aircraft a
year from its Albany, Georgia aircraft manufacturing facility. The company recognized that a market
began to emerge in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s for a turboprop driven utility aircraft that could
replace the DeHavilland Beaver and Otter aircraft for remote and short field operations. Ayres having
experience with turboprop powerplants, rugged utility category airframes, and precision fabrication,
enabled them to see other markets that they could tap into.
Ayres began the design of a single engine turboprop utility aircraft in the 1980’s, called the
Bushmaster, which had the tail and wing of the company’s Turbo Thrush. Unfortunately, a recession in
the early 1980’s and the introduction of the Cessna Caravan derailed Ayres plans for the Bushmaster,
which looked almost identical to the Caravan. Ayres decided to instead focus on diversification of his
product line and began building parts for McDonnell Douglas’ helicopters and Boeing 727 cargo doors
for Federal Express.
Federal Express (FedEx), Corporation, the premier over-night-express service founded in 1971, began
operations with Dassault Falcon 20 corporate converted cargo aircraft from its Memphis, Tennessee-
based air cargo center. FedEx lobbied the FAA for unrestricted geographic routing of its air cargo and as
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Ayres Loadmaster LM200A Case Study

a result of successful lobbying, purchased wide-bodied Boeing 727’s for its global network. It was at this
time that FedEx approached Ayres about its B727 cargo door construction needs. (O’Conner, 2001)
FedEx was using vans and other ground vehicles to transport packages between small cities and
towns to “feeder” airports where its aircraft could fly the cargo to its package-sorting hub in Memphis.
FedEx was looking for a turboprop aircraft that could fly routes efficiently under 500 miles and in 1982
looked on the BAE 748, Fokker F27, Marchetti Canguro, Casa 212, Piper T-1040 and the PBN Islander.
“Those which have the payload capability are too expensive for us, while those which are cheap
enough cant’t be loaded and unloaded easily. Federal Express’ particular requirement for a small aircraft
may prove extremely hard to satisfy. (Current commuters are fine), but Federal Express gets very low
utilization from its aircraft because of the nature of its operation, so initial capital and depreciation
costing assumes great significance for the company.” (Flight International, 1982)
Cessna had heard about the FedEx requirement and approached them in order to demonstrate its
Cessna C-208 Caravan single-engine utility aircraft. Although, Fred Smith, founder of FedEx did not like
the idea of using a single engine aircraft in extensive commercial night flying, he conceded when the
performance of the C208 was realized. In 1985 FedEx announced that it would use the Caravan in its
‘feeder’ fleet.
The introduction of the Caravan proved invaluable to the FedEx feeder routes, however it was not
long before FedEx was on another search for a new turboprop aircraft that was larger than the Caravan.
FedEx looked at a variety of aircraft.
The demands of the fast growing over-night air cargo business forced FedEx into acquiring Fokker F27-
600s and F27-500s in 1988 for its large turboprop requirement. This aircraft had a 99% reliability of
operation, but was expensive to operate and FedEx began thinking about a future acquisition.
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Ayres Loadmaster LM200A Case Study

FedEx required an aircraft sized midway between the Cessna 208 and the F27 (see Figure 1.). FedEx
had two major criteria for the new aircraft: 1) capacity: it had to be able to carry containerized cargo
(i.e. standard AYY or LD3 containers), and it had to allow for 14 Federal Aviation Regulation Part 135
single-pilot operation in order to reduce operating costs.

Figure 1. FedEx Cessna C-208 Caravan and Fokker F27 Friendship Feeder Aircraft

The company studied four potential ways of providing the extra lift. First, FedEx considered adding
more Cessna 208s and F27s to the fleet; second, to order other existing or soon-to-be-produced types;
third, to buy aircraft other than the Cessna 208 and F27; and fourth, to become involved in the
development of an all-new aircraft that met their exact requirements. FedEx quickly decided that none
of the first three options was ideal.
Option one was discarded, because FedEx already flew multiple Cessna C208s and the aircraft were
not able to accept FedEx’s standardized cargo containers. FedEx did not want to purchase any more
Caravans and wanted to find something with a greater useful load. The Fokker F27 had high direct
operating costs and the supportability of the aircraft was in question, because Fokker was going through
a bankruptcy.
FedEx dropped option two after studying at least 56 aircraft types, including the Chinese-built Harbin
Y-12, the Russian Antonov An-38 and the Czech LET 410/610/710 series of aircraft.
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Ayres Loadmaster LM200A Case Study

The majority of the aircraft that FedEx studied failed because of the single-pilot-operation
requirement or because of inefficient cabin volume utilization, which provided no opportunity for
containerization. The parcel carrier eliminated the non-Western aircraft choices because it was worried
about the aircrafts product support. Which left the last option of turning towards manufacturers for a
‘clean-sheet’ design.
In October 1995, Ayres announced that Ayres was pursuing design studies for a PT6A Soloy Pac twin-
engine aircraft known as the Loadmaster. The design, originally a 19 seat commuter aircraft to be
designed under 14 CFR Part 23 for passenger service, had a “quick change” capability to be converted
into a freighter hauling three LD3 containers. A larger variant of the design that was being offered during
the initial studies at Ayres was capable of carrying 14 parcel containers. Both aircraft would have a
common empennage derived from the Ayres Thrush aircraft, while the smaller of the two designs would
use the Thrush’s wing mounted outboard of a wing root extension. The Soloy company was the first to
disclose to the public that FedEx had shown interest in the Loadmaster design and the “Dual Pac”
propulsion system.
Ayres began designing possible utility aircraft for the FedEx requirement in the early 1990’s and gave
his Bushmaster turboprop a second look. After pitching a version of the Bushmaster to FedEx, the parcel
company stated that they did not want another Caravan, which has an 8,000 lb maximum weight, but a
larger aircraft.
Ayres decides to increase the size of the aircraft and its payload for a gross weight of 12,500 lbs,
which is the FAA’s maximum allowable for a single engine aircraft. FedEx still was not happy and wanted
an aircraft that was large enough to carry its standard cargo containers. Ayres pushed the design up to
19,000 lbs, despite the regulatory requirement.
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Ayres Loadmaster LM200A Case Study

The FAA was not willing to relinquish its stance on the ruling of maximum single-engine aircraft
weight, especially after a series of commuter accidents which occurred in the early to mid-1990s. Ayres
then offered the FAA a design that included two engines, but one propeller, driven by a common
gearbox, in order to get around the single-engine limitation. Ayres will later file an application for type
certification with the FAA of the twin-engine single propeller Loadmaster in February 2001.
The designs evolution over its development was heavily influenced by powerplant changes. The
aircrafts propeller diameter was changed to develop more thrust. With the increase in diameter the
propulsion unit had to be positioned on the airframe higher from the ground. This resulted in moving
the cockpit higher, which gives the aircraft an elevated cabin. The fuselage design was frozen at its
minimum size to reduce weight while still accommodating the LD3 containers.
The Loadmaster exceeded its cargo capacity requirement of being less than FedEx’s Fokker F27. The
designer tried to produce an airframe that was less than 50% of gross weight. He achieved an airframe
weight that was 47% that of gross weight. Ayres also designed the aircraft to comply with 14 CFR Part 25
for transport category aircraft instead of Part 23 commuter aircraft. Ayres wanted to be able to utilize
the aircraft in the transport category as modifications and additions to the aircraft would likely result in
weight increases.
The Loadmasters was designed as a high wing aircraft for greater lift. Its increased thickness-to-chord
ratio (20%) allowed the aircraft to have deep spars, eliminating struts, and lowing the aircrafts weight.
The aircrafts stall speed of 70 kts and a maximum of 205 kts allows the aircraft to approach small fields
while being to cruise at a respectable speed. The aircraft was expected to land over a 50 ft obstacle
within 1,745 ft and takeoff in 1,525ft, making the aircraft able to access almost all paved runways in
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Ayres Loadmaster LM200A Case Study

The freight aircraft will have forward and aft cargo doors on the standard model. Ayres planned a
future variant of the LM200 with a clam-shell aft cargo door to accommodate a “pickup truck or
minivan.” (Warwick, 1997) The company’s plans were to certify the aircraft for $25 million using two
prototype aircraft.
In December 1996 Ayres announces at the NBAA show in Orlando, Florida that the company has
signed a deal with FedEx for 50 LM200 aircraft, with an option for an additional 200 aircraft over 15
years with first delivery set to begin in December of 1999 (see Figure 2.). The company planned a 30
month certification program, which it expected to start in mid-1997. The first prototype was expected to
fly by the end of 1998.
Ayres envisioned other roles for the aircraft. He expected that foreign countries in remote regions
will be interested in the aircraft as a low cost maritime patrol aircraft or firebomber. Ayres had not
negotiated with any other group that showed an interest in the Loadmaster, but he believed that the
“world” was his market, considering that no other manufacturer had any aircraft that could compete
directly with the Loadmaster.

Figure 2. Fred Ayres and the LM200 at NBAA 1996 (Courtesy of Flight International)
A 1/8
scale wind tunnel model of the Ayres LM200 with revised main undercarriage, in order to
reduce drag, was developed to test refinements being made to the overall aerodynamic configuration.
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Ayres Loadmaster LM200A Case Study

The company considered replacing the “automotive style strut gear with a trailing beam type housed in
an aerodynamic fairing.”(Warwick, 1997)
About this time Ayres was considering an alternative engine type to the LHTEC T-800. The company
was looking at offering a Pratt & Whitney Canada/Soloy Twinpac propulsion system, which would have
different center-of-gravity locations and require the Pratt & Whitney engines to be moved 11.8 inches
(300mm) further back on the aircraft.

Figure 3. LHTEC T-800 Turboshaft Engine and model of Loadmaster at Paris Air Show. (Courtesy Flight

In the meantime Ayres was pursuing certification of the Turbo Thrush 660 aircraft with a production
of 70 agricultural aircraft by the end of 1997.
The Ayres Loadmaster design features two LHTEC (AlliedSignal/Allison) CTP-800 turboshaft engines
driving one six-bladed propeller through a Westland combining gear shaft. Ayres signed an agreement
with Allison in mid-1997 to cover the supply of 100 LHTEC CTP800-4T engines for the LM200. At the
same time Ayres selects the Honeywell SPZ-5000 integrated avionics system for the freighter, which
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Ayres Loadmaster LM200A Case Study

includes the IC-500 Integrated Avionics Computer, Honeywell’s Primus II navigation/communications
radios, and the Primus 440 color weather radar.
Ayres considered the requirements of a single-engine cargo aircraft in other countries where FedEx
might fly the Loadmaster. For the aircraft to be operated in Europe the single-pilot instrument-flight
regulations for commercial aircraft would have to be relaxed there. Other countries that were modeled
after Europe aviation regulations may also prove challenging.
In July 1997 Ayres announced 10 additional orders for the LM200, which expanded its total orders to
67 aircraft. The additional order came from Corporate Air, a Montana-based company which operates
90 aircraft under contract with FedEx, flying Cessna 208 Caravans and Shorts 360s. Corporate Air has an
option for 20 more aircraft. At this time Ayres has 50 orders from FedEx, 10 for Corporate Air, five for
Dutch operator Duijvestijn Aviation (with an additional option of five more), and South Africa’s Orsmond
Aviation, which has ordered two.
In August of 1997 Allison completes design work on the CTP-800 engine and selects a 3 bladed
Hamilton propeller system to pull the aircraft. Allison recognizes that Ayres is on an “aggressive
schedule” and tries to order parts for a completed engine systems test in the second quarter 1998.
The contract for the initial engine is with Ayres, however an identically configured propulsion system
is planned to be delivered to FedEx under a separate contract with the parcel carrier. Allison believes
that they should have no trouble with the gearbox for the Loadmaster. “We’ve got real confidence in
the gearbox…we have got the three (Allison, Allied Signal and Westland manufacturers) best minds in
the world working on it,” said Don Christiansen, Allison CPT800 engine manager. (Norris, 1997)
FedEx’ supplemental aircraft operations division had worked closely with Ayres to keep the project's
costs down. They were sensitive to capital requirements for development of the aircraft. FedEx spent $1
billion (in capital projects) a year - as much as UPS, which is twice the size in 1997 - and there was a
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Ayres Loadmaster LM200A Case Study

significant level of competition for capital within the company. FedEx would fly its Cessna 208s for just
one and a half hours a day and their F27s just over two. The turboprops were not getting the utilization
that FedEx’ turbojet did. Transporting four LD3 containers using the economy of the LM200 was its
saving grace (see Figure 4.).

Figure 4. Model of Loadmaster receiving a load of four shipping containers. (Courtesy of Flight

In an effort to reduce costs FedEx negotiated a volume powerplant buy with LHTEC. FedEx
approached the UK helicopter manufacturer, Westland, to arrange a similar buy for its gearboxes. This
negotiation strategy continued with all of the other FedEx subcontractors.
To secure a lower price FedEx promised each manufacturer a sole-source, long-term contract to and
will supply the major components to Ayres as buyer-furnished equipment rather than having to accept
any manufacturer's mark-up.
The cargo carrier also established a program office staffed by its own engineers to conduct oversight
on the certification process and keep certification costs down, although the Loadmaster will be
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Ayres Loadmaster LM200A Case Study

certificated under Ayres' own type certificate. FedEx needed the Loadmaster and it worked to see that
the dedicated cargo aircraft would fly in its fleet before any other parcel carrier.
The public’s response to the unattractive shape of the Loadmaster design, which had been called a
“whale” and one of the “ugliest planes in the world,” received a tongue and cheek response from FedEx
engineer Guy See, saying, “one of the ten ugliest aircraft in the industry, but we don’t care, and seeing
as it flies at night, no one will see it anyway.” (Flight International, 1997)

Figure 5. Ayres LM200 Loadmaster (Courtesy Jane’s Information Group)

FedEx, eager to have the most economical aircraft for its routes, approaches Israeli Aircraft Industries
(IAI) and Ayres about building a larger aircraft dedicated to air cargo, which would be designed to
replace the Fokker F27. Ayres, building the Loadmaster, which is designed to fit in between the Caravan
and the F27, is asked about a growth version. This growth version would be on the order of $10 million
per aircraft and carry five standard FedEx containers up to 970 nautical miles. The Loadmaster is
designed to carry only four half-sized containers.
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Ayres Loadmaster LM200A Case Study

In lieu of a completely new aircraft, FedEx asked Ayres if a stretched version of the Loadmaster could
be built. The new FedEx concept aircraft is said by Fred Smith, founder and chairman of the parcel
carrier, “not close to a launch decision. These are only concepts.” (Lopez, 1997)
In the early part of 1998 Ayres looked at locations that could conduct final assembly of the
Loadmaster. The company evaluated sites in Americus, Georgia and Dothan, Alabama. Ayres selected
Dothan, because it possessed a skilled work force and the city offered a $4 million incentive.
Ayres was beginning to move very quickly on the Loadmaster design and began approaching various
manufactures that could complete detail design work on the aircraft. In April of 1998 Ayres announced
that Fairchild Dornier would be contracted to design the fuselage, while the wing and tail subcontractor
was yet to be named. Ayres sought manufacturers in the US, but no cost effective design firm stood out.
Ayres needed an aircraft manufacturer with experience that could build the wings and empennage
for the Loadmaster and found that the Czech Republic’s Let Kunovice aircraft company was very well
suited to the task and began contractual arrangements for the company to build Loadmaster
In late April the Czech government approves the deal for Ayres to buy Let Kunovice. The US
government is slow to approve the sale, approving the purchase in September of 1998. Ayres then
became owner of 93.6% of Let and assumed the company’s long-term debt. Ayres bought the shares
that were being held by Aero Holdings and the Czech state owned bank, Konsolidaeni. The remainder of
the shares are left in the hands of a small group of shareholders, which each own about 1%.
Ayres purchased the company, because of Let’s 19-seat L-410/420 and the 40-seat L-610G aircraft,
would complement the Ayres product line of rugged utility aircraft. Ayres planned to manage product
support, sales and marketing activities for both Let’s and Ayres’ aircraft. The L-410 shared the same
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Ayres Loadmaster LM200A Case Study

vertical stabilizer and L-610 the wing, of the Loadmaster. Let would also manufacture the turbine air
inlet cover and the aft section of the fuselage of the LM200.
The L-610G was a ‘westernized’ version of the L-610, with western avionics. The aircraft was originally
designed for a requirement released by the former Soviet Union as a replacement for the Antonov An-
24. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Let planned to offer the aircraft with western avionics to
widen its market. Ayres changed the name of the L-610G to the Ayres 7000 and demonstrated the
aircraft in the US. Ayres believed that its combined sales with Let would exceed $100 million.
In August of 1998 FedEx secures a deal with Pan Am International Flight Academy to provide flight
training for its LM200 Loadmaster pilots. The Academy planned to build a training center at the FedEx
hub in Memphis, Tennessee, and to house a Level D full-flight simulator for the aircraft. The simulator
would be manufactured by Virginia-based Intelx and the data package by Kohlman Systems Research.
In May of 1999 FedEx converted 25 options to firm orders for the Loadmaster, bring FedEx’s order to
75 aircraft and 175 optioned aircraft. Deliveries for FedEx are planned at two a month from the Dothan
assembly line. The Loadmaster airframe was approximately 8 months from completion (see Fig 6.) and
the engineering toubles in the gearbox and with the LHTEC engine were beginning to be resolved.

Figure 6. Loadmaster cockpit in the Ayres factory.

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Ayres Loadmaster LM200A Case Study

The Financial Load of the Loadmaster
By August 2000 the Let aircraft division of Ayres was forced to suspend production, because an
agreement with its largest creditor, Konsolidacni Bank (KoB), which was about to expire. The divisions
1,400 employees were being laid off. Ayres attempted to revive Let by negotiating with the Israeli
Aircraft Industries (IAI) for a partnership in Let. British Aerospace (BAe) Corporation also showed
interest in partnering in Let to construct parts for BAe in Czechoslovakia in order to make the deal more
attractive to the Czech Republic. The aircraft BAe was selling was the Saab Gripen fighter aircraft. IAI,
which had lost several contracts at the time, and who were having difficulty in marketing their own
cargo aircraft, the Airtruck, saw a possible boost from the investment in the Loadmaster in
The KoB was owed approximately $50 million by Let, and Ayres, having assumed the company’s debt
was required to pay the bank back. Ayres was unable to stabilize Let and could not secure financing for
the failing company.
Ayres stopped making payments to KoB in July 2000, when KoB cancelled a stand-still agreement on
debt repayment. A ‘stand-still agreement’ is a form of hostile takeover defense in which Ayres, on behalf
of Let, acquires a promise from KoB to limit the amount of the payments. At the time the only Let sales
were of the L-410, which was too little to keep the company in business. Ayres could not bail out Let.
Instead it made promises to build greater percentages of the Loadmaster in the Let manufacturing
facility in order to save the factory worker’s jobs. KoB declared Let bankrupt in October of 2000.
Ayres was beginning to face its own financial problems with the Loadmaster creditors. In September
of 2000 Ayres began seeking additional financing and additional partners to complete the development
of the delayed Loadmaster.
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Ayres Loadmaster LM200A Case Study

Advisors, Aero Equity, was retained by Ayres to write a business plan to assist in trying to attract
more equity investors. The company had enough capital to get the aircraft through certification, but not
enough to begin production of the aircraft afterward. In order to continue with FedEx’ support, FedEx
wanted to see a viable business and technical plan, that addressed Ayres effort to get the Loadmaster
back on track to construction, testing, and production.
The Triumph Group, who were to integrate the LHTEC engines into the Loadmaster, promised to
deliver the engines by December 15, 2000. The engine was not pacing the speedy airframe’s
development schedule. When Let went bankrupt in October Ayres would have to find another wing and
empennage manufacturer for its Loadmaster. Fred Ayres suggested to his creditors that they could find
relatively low cost manufacturers in Poland or Romania.
The drain on the company’s finances was becoming unescapable. In late November 2000 Ayres files
Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. GATX Capital provided Ayres with an initial infusion of debtor-in-
possession (DIP) financing to allow work on the Loadmaster to resume after a stoppage of work
occurred due to Ayes running out of money. GATX Capital, based in San Francisco, is a subsidiary of
Chicago-based GATX Corp., a specialized finance and leasing company that focuses primarily on railroad,
commercial aircraft and marine assets. As a financial firm, GATX Capital has no intention of operating as
an OEM.
Ayres needed $80 million to resolve its debts and allow for Loadmaster work to continue. GATX
Capital was adamant that the only reason they were continuing to finance the Loadmaster was because
FedEx was still behind the aircraft. FedEx was remaining supportive, but had doubts about Ayres
At this point Ayres intends to fly the Loadmaster in the third quarter of 2001 and begin deliveries in
the first or second quarter of 2003. The aircraft is now four years behind schedule and Ayres owed GATX
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Ayres Loadmaster LM200A Case Study

$22 million. GATX believed that the program was too much for Fred Ayres to control and would only
provide DIP financing if he stepped down from the helm of the company. Ayres reluctantly stepped
down and took up a position of sales and marketing of the Loadmaster and the L-610G.
The air cargo market for the first two quarters of 2000 were dismal for FedEx due to a weak US
economy. It was then that FedEx planned to curtail some of its aircraft conversion programs. After
analyzing the Loadmaster financial problems and the projected difficulties with the economy, FedEx
terminated their commitment to the Loadmaster program and wrote off the $9 million in deposits paid
to Ayres.
Despite the termination, FedEx expressed that if the aircraft was manufactured that they would still
be interested in the aircraft as a buyer, but not as its developer. FedEx told potential Ayres investors
that they were still interested in the aircraft, making Ayres a potentially good investment.
On August 7
2001 a bankruptcy auction was held on the Ayres Thrush product line and the
Loadmaster program. Five potential buyers came forward for acquiring all of the Ayres assets, and three
others were interested in just the Thrush product. GATX formed Crown Aerospace in order to legally
take over the assets of Ayres to sale them without the burden of debt. The company’s debt would
remain with Ayres who was now facing legal troubles on the ownership of the engines of Lets L610G,
that Ayres was to market in the US as the Ayres 7000, as the engines were from US manufacturer
General Electric. Ayres also faced a law suit involving Pan Pacific, a commuter airline that went out of
business after placing orders with Let for its L-410’s, which Ayres was responsible for. Pan Pacific
claimed that the delays on the L-410, due to work stoppage for the Loadmaster, and the eventual
bankruptcy of Let, caused the commuter airline to go under.

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Ayres Loadmaster LM200A Case Study

The Legacy of the Loadmaster
FedEx in late 2002 searched for a Loadmaster replacement. They focused on the Saab 340, the ATR42,
and the BAe ATP. FedEx was still looking for a turboprop cargo aircraft that could still transport its
standardized containers with the capacity of the Loadmaster. Only the converted ATP and ATR with
cargo door kits, priced at $1 million installed, were FedEx’ only options.
Continental Airlines was planning the retirement of its ATR42’s and FedEx saw that as an opportunity
to acquire a number of the aircraft at a low price. The ATR freighters were planned to be used on short
routes in areas where surface transportation was not expedient to fulfill the role the Loadmaster had

Figure. 7 FedEx ATR42 Air Freight Aircraft

GATX parted and sold the product lines of the Ayers Corp. to different buyers. The Thrush agricultural
aircraft line went to Larry Bays, former Mayor of Albany, Ga, and US Army helicopter pilot, while the
rights to the Loadmaster was sold to Canadian businessman Adam Sanford. There is no interest in
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Ayres Loadmaster LM200A Case Study

reviving the Loadmaster program, however the unique niche market between the Caravan and the F27s
cargo capacity for a dedicated air cargo aircraft has not been filled, and FedEx continues to use the
Caravans under contract carriage today.

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Ayres Loadmaster LM200A Case Study


Baron, Roger. Flight International Editorial, Surrey, UK, 5 November 1997, pg. 44
Federal Express: New Aircraft and Electronic Mail. Flight International, Surrey, UK, 25 September 1982,
pg. 910
Janes’ All the World’s Aircraft 1999-2000. Janes Information Group, London 2000
Lopez, Ramon. FedEx Opens Talks in Hunt for Fokker F27 Successor. Flight International, Surrey, UK, 19
November 1997, pg. 8
Norris, Guy. Flight International, Surrey, UK, 6 August 1997, pg. 17
O’Conner, William E. An Introduction to Airline Economics, 6
Ed. Praeger. Westport, Connecticut. 2001
Warwick, Graham, Master of the Loads. Flight International, Surrey, UK, 3 September 1997, pg. 29

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Ayres Loadmaster LM200A Case Study

AYRES LM200 LOADMASTER (Description Courtesy of Jane’s Information Group 1999)
TYPE: Twin-engined utility transport.
PROGRAMME: Design officially launched 1996, following considerable detail redesign (see 1996-97
edition); Federal Express announced as launch customer November 1996; contract placed in 1997 for
LHTEC to deliver 100 power plants from May 1999 onwards; three prototypes to be built at Albany.
Production line started at Dothan, Alabama; Let is building wings and tail unit subassemblies in Czech
Republic, and was due to deliver first sets in December 1998. First flight due early 1999; certification to
FAR Pt 135, for single pilot operation, mid-1999; first deliveries by October 1999.
CURRENT VERSIONS: LM200: Civil version; as described. Applications include container freighter and
passenger version carrying 19 passengers at ordinary seating pitch or 34 in high-density. Firefighting and
long-range patrol variants also under consideration.
Searchmaster: Proposed remote earth sensing aircraft; two operators' consoles in cargo hold.
LM250: Military freighter, described separately.
CUSTOMERS: Ayres foresees sales of 600 aircraft by 2010. Federal Express signed letter of intent for 50,
plus 200 options, in November 1996. By mid-1998, additional orders received from Corporate Air of
Montana (three, plus 20 options); Duijvestijn Aviation, Netherlands (five, plus five options); Orsmond
Aviation, South Africa (four); and WestAir of Fresno, California (two). Order book stood at 75 in late
COSTS: Basic price US$4 million to US$5 million (1999).
DESIGN FEATURES: Meets requirements of mixed freight operators seeking aircraft sized between
Cessna Caravan and Fokker F27/50. Single-propeller configuration, but circumvents several countries'
prohibitions of single-engine commercial night flights by employing two linked turboshafts. Shoulder-
wing design, with constant chord centre-section and tapered outer panels with outward-canted
endplates. No cabin windows on freight version. ALM 201 wing section; thickness/chord ratio 20 per
cent at root, 13 per cent at tip; taper ratio 0.4; dihedral 1º 30'. Rudder, cockpit fittings, control wheels
and engine inlets from Let L-410.
FLYING CONTROLS: Conventional and manual. Actuation by pushrods and cables. Electromechanical
single-slotted, three-position flaps. Trim tabs in starboard aileron, rudder and both elevators.
STRUCTURE: All metal, semi-monocoque fuselage with aluminium alloy skins, having clad aluminium
frames and stringers. Two-spar wing with integral fuel tank; spars at 20 and 63 per cent chord.
Aluminium alloy leading-edge skins; composites wingtips. One-piece horizontal stabiliser constructed on
two full-span spars. Special protection against corrosive cargo.
LANDING GEAR: Fixed tricycle type, with sponson-mounted trailing-link main gear having oleo shock-
absorbers and differential three-rotor `tri-metallic' brakes from Aircraft Braking Systems, which also
provides wheel assemblies. Parking brake; nosewheel steerable ±75º. Mainwheel tyres 28 × 9.00-12,
Delta State University
Ayres Loadmaster LM200A Case Study

pressure 6.76 bars (98 lb/sq in); nosewheel 18 × 5.50-12, pressure 6.27 bars (91 lb/sq in). Ski, float and
retractable landing gear are under consideration.
POWER PLANT: One 2,013 kW (2,700 shp) LHTEC CTP800-4T `twin-barrel propulsion system' of two in-
parallel coupled engines, each with FADEC, driving a six-blade Hamilton Standard 568F-11 constant-
speed propeller through a GKN Westland combining gearbox. A `hot and high' version using T801 engine
is being considered. Fuel tanks in wings, combined capacity 3,407 litres (900 US gallons; 749 Imp
gallons). Single pressure refuelling/defuelling point in starboard sponson; optional gravity defuelling.
ACCOMMODATION: Pilot and optional co-pilot and observer on flight deck. Four LD3 or Demi freight
containers, plus general freight. Four cargo areas: Main, comprising constant section of fuselage; Upper,
behind flight deck; Forward, below flight deck; and Aft, in tailcone. Main area contains four seat tracks
for total of 34 passengers, or 19 passengers and bulk cargo. Cabin windows and two emergency exits
optional. Crew and passenger door forward of wing, port side, gives access to forward cargo area, flight
deck (via ladder) and main area. Main freight door, port side, aft of wing; aft baggage door, starboard
side. Internal door on passenger version (optional for freight version) between forward cargo area and
main hold. Flight deck side windows are hinged at top for ground ventilation and emergency exit.
Accommodation ventilated and heated; air conditioning optional.
SYSTEMS: Electrical system 28 V DC, powered by two engine-driven 400 A starter/generators; two 24 V
43 Ah lead/acid batteries. Optional 24 V battery for cargo hold lighting. Ground power inlet, port side
rear, 28 V DC. Hydraulic system, 138 bars (2,000 lb/sq in), powers mainwheel brakes and nosewheel
steering; electric pump. Fire detection and suppression system in each engine compartment.
Environmental system of cargo version comprises outside air ventilation for cooling, and either engine
bleed air or electric elements for heat; optional vapour cycle air conditioning. Passenger version has
engine bleed air heat and vapour cycle cooling with automatic temperature controls. Pneumatic rubber
de-icing boots on wing and tail leading-edges; electric heating of propeller blades, engine air inlets and
windscreens for flight into known icing.
AVIONICS: Honeywell SPZ-5000 as core system.
Comms: Primus II system including two RCZ-851G com units and RM-850 radio management unit.
Radar: Primus 440 weather radar antenna on starboard wing leading-edge.
Flight: IC-500 autopilot, ADC-3000 air data computer, AT-300 radio altimeter, AH-800 AHRS and
dual AlliedSignal KLN 900 GPS. Optional TCAS 2000.
Instrumentation: Two ED-600 127 × 127 mm (5 × 5 in) CRT displays.
EQUIPMENT: Ball-mat cargo handling floor; cargo restraints around floor.

Wing span 19.51 m (64 ft 0 in)
Wing chord: at root 3.12 m (10 ft 3 in) at tip 1.24 m (4 ft 1 in)
Wing aspect ratio 8.9
Delta State University
Ayres Loadmaster LM200A Case Study

Length overall 19.61 m (64 ft 4 in)
Height overall 7.00 m (22 ft 11½ in)
Tailplane span 8.13 m (26 ft 8 in)
Wheel track 4.57 m (15 ft 0 in)
Wheelbase 5.69 m (18 ft 8 in)
Propeller diameter 3.91 m (12 ft 9¾ in)
Freight door: Height 2.11 m (6 ft 11 in) Width 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
Aft baggage door: Height 1.07 m (3 ft 6 in) Width 0.76 m (2 ft 6 in)
Main cargo area: Length 6.73 m (22 ft 1 in)
Width at floor 2.28 m (7 ft 5¾ in)
Max width 2.54 m (8 ft 4 in)
Max height 2.40 m (7 ft 10½ in)
Floor area 15.3 m2 (165 sq ft)
Volume 38.2 m3 (1,350 cu ft)
Upper cargo area: Volume 2.3 m3 (80 cu ft)
Forward cargo area: Volume 7.1 m3 (249 cu ft)
Aft cargo area: Floor area 4.1 m2 (43.7 sq ft)
Volume 9.2 m3 (325 cu ft)
Wings, gross 42.55 m2 (458.0 sq ft)
Ailerons (total) 4.33 m2 (46.60 sq ft)
Trailing-edge flaps (total) 8.53 m2 (91.80 sq ft)
Fin 4.65 m2 (50.00 sq ft)
Rudder, incl tab 2.45 m2 (26.40 sq ft)
Tailplane 9.25 m2 (99.60 sq ft)
Elevators (total, incl tabs) 2.36 m2 (25.40 sq ft)

Delta State University
Ayres Loadmaster LM200A Case Study


Weight empty, equipped 4,082 kg (9,000 lb)
Max payload 3,946 kg (8,700 lb)
Max fuel weight 2,735 kg (6,030 lb)
Max T-O and landing weight 8,618 kg (19,000 lb)
Max ramp weight 8,704 kg (19,190 lb)
Max wing loading 202.5 kg/m2 (41.48 lb/sq ft)
Max power loading 4.28 kg/kW (7.03 lb/shp)

PERFORMANCE (estimated):
Never-exceed speed (VNE) 231 kt (427 km/h; 265 mph)
Max cruising speed 205 kt (380 km/h; 236 mph)
Normal cruising speed 180 kt (333 km/h; 207 mph)
Econ cruising speed 153 kt (283 km/h; 176 mph)
Max rate of climb at S/L 567 m (1,861 ft)/min
Max certified altitude 7,620 m (25,000 ft)
T-O to 15 m (50 ft) 465 m (1,525 ft)
Landing from 15 m (50 ft) 532 m (1,745 ft)
Range: with max payload 280 n miles (518 km; 322 miles) with 1,814 kg (4,000 lb) payload 1,590 n
miles (2,944 km; 1,829 miles) ferry 1,630 n miles (3,018 km; 1,875 miles)
g limits +2.9/–1.1

Delta State University
Ayres Loadmaster LM200A Case Study


Size comparison of the Ayres LM200 (top); Shorts 330 (middle); and Cessna Caravan (bottom). (Courtesy
Internet: Secret Aircraft Projects)

Ayres Corporation Logo.

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