Van’s Aircraft Files for Chapter 11


Van’s Aircraft, facing multiple crises and a serious cash crunch, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection today. According to the company, this is ”a key step in the reorganization of the company. During this period of reorganization Van’s will continue to source, produce, and provide parts, service, and support to our customers. We will also be crating and shipping kit orders,” the company said in a statement. It is expected to file its proposed reorganization plans within 90 days but will operate “under court supervision in the normal course of business.”

“Over the past few years, the company has faced a handful of complex issues, including unprecedented supply chain challenges throughout COVID, faulty primer that led to corrosion problems on quick build kits, and problems with laser-cut parts that were manufactured in response to high demand. As a result of this combination of issues, the company experienced serious cash-flow problems from which it could not recover through the normal course of business. During that time, Van’s built up a significant and high-value parts inventory. As we manufacture the additional parts needed to balance this inventory, we will leverage it to fulfill orders for kits and parts over the next 12 to 18 months.

“The purpose of the Chapter 11 filing is to allow Van’s to continue to provide ongoing support for its customers, suppliers, and employees for many years to come. We understand that this situation creates a hardship for everyone involved. However, without these changes we do not see a viable path forward that would allow Van’s Aircraft to remain in business and support its customers,” the company said in a statement.

This news follows recent updates from Van’s on its internal programs to get to the bottom of inventory control, manufacturing delays and a way out for builders provided with laser-cut parts that were prone to cracking during builder assembly. In late October, Van’s founder Dick VanGrunsven announced immediate changes to some of the company’s programs and said it would undertake a detailed analysis of the business to run through mid-November. More recently, Van’s announced that it had been able to narrow the window of likelihood of any given kit containing laser-cut parts and had begun notifying builders. A program to identify laser-cut parts and to provide recommendations on their replacement has been going on since summer.

“Over the past several weeks the team at Van’s has been developing plans for each impacted group of customers. These include customers who need laser-cut replacement parts; customers with deposits on kit orders; and customers with deposits on engine, propeller, and avionics orders. We want to provide meaningful information to each of our customers as soon as possible, so they know what their options are,” the company says.

Customers who have received laser-cut parts will be contacted with a “detailed list of laser-cut parts in-scope for their individual kit(s), based on the actual date their kit was crated, and the laser-cut parts that were available as of that date. Our goal is to start the process of shipping replacement parts to customers this month, and to complete the delivery of replacement parts to all impacted customers before the end of 2024.”

For builders who have placed deposits on kits, “Van’s will begin contacting customers with open kit orders that were placed prior to the filing date within the next 7 to 10 days with an offer to apply their existing deposit toward purchase of the same kit, under new terms and conditions including an increase in price. These customers will receive an email that will direct them to a website where they will be able to view the details of their existing order, the amount of their deposit and Van’s proposed order modifications. Customers can then choose to accept their modified order(s) on the website.

“Van’s expects to resume shipping in-stock kit orders within the next 7 to 10 days. We will do our best to prioritize those who have waited longest, but our kit fulfillment schedule must be one that is financially acceptable to the court, based substantially on cash flow rather than the traditional and historical method of order fulfillment that Van’s customers have experienced in the past. We will be constrained by – and will make prioritization decisions based on – the rate and timing of order renewal, availability of in-stock parts, and our need to ship kits that generate positive cash flow. Where we are able to do so, we will also consider the age of the original customer order.” Similarly, customers with deposits on engines, propellers and avionics will be contacted regarding next steps, though the company says that “Due to the volume and nature of these orders, we do not expect to have answers for these customers before mid-January.”

Prices are expected to increase across the board, including parts. “Customers with open parts orders that require updated pricing will be contacted soon and will receive access to a website where they will be able to review and act upon the details of their existing orders and Van’s proposed order modifications. Orders which do not require modification will be processed and shipped in the normal course of business.”

Van’s founder, Dick VanGrunsven, has already stepped in to help the company financially. The declaration submitted by Clyde Hamstreet of Hamstreet & Associates for Van’s reads, in part, “The founder, Mr. Richard VanGrunsven…who is now in his 80s, has been essentially retired from Van’s. However, the management team recently made him aware of the dire financial situation that the company and he has come in to do all he can to rescue Van’s from this financial crisis for the long-term benefit of its customers, employees and vendors.” According to the declaration, VanGrunsven and his wife, Diane, have loaned the company more than $10 million over the last two years to help stabilize the situation. Moreover, the declaration states that Van’s “will also be seeking court approval for a post-petition loan from the [VanGrunsven] Trust in an amount up to $6,000,000 to help fund post-petition operations.”

Van's RV-6


  1. Being 26 and having saved all my life for this dream of building and owning a plane to hopefully come true. I’m beside myself to see what the future holds. Vans holds $50k of my money on avionics and engine orders. More than I make in a year…. I can’t imagine if I were to take that kind of loss at my age (or any age for that matter). A lifelong dream has turned into a living nightmare and I can only try to patiently wait and hope for the best. Hope isn’t lost and I desperately wish for them to succeed. But it’s a very sad day for many.

    • Well, I hear your pain Jacob. I did the math…if the recovery specialist helped “over 95%” of “more than 70” companies make successful recoveries, that means all but 3 made it. Of course, not sure what success looked Ike to the customers caught in the troubles looked like. Good luck, especially if you are married.

  2. It is my understanding that the program developed by vans for the laser cutter to cut out the holes was changed by the vendor without notifying Vans, The alter cutting program caused a burr at the end of the cut and nor a smooth transition that Vans had programmed. The burr stressed the end of the cut and when it was dimpled the metal then became subject to cracks. This was not Vans doing but they had to deal with it.
    I’m confident this quality company will make it all right for everyone, (I have an RV-12 under construction), we just have to have patience. Unfortunately in our current social climate, people are too quick to pass judgment’s and look for someone to blame for their frustrations. The will not get your parts or kits to you any faster, so again, be patient. Thanks Vans for doing the best you can under some very difficult times.

    • That is what quality control does, finds bad product before they ship to the customers, this is absolutely Vans fault.

      • I doubt that. I’ve been in manufacturing my whole life (now 82) and have functioned as a shop floor employee, supervisor inspection and finally as a supervisor Industrial Engineer for a very large farm equipment manufacture.
        These kind of “gotcha” moments hits every one. Now in the farming industry there used to be farmer operators without fingers, hands and arms and other appendages and the manufacture has think as an operator who’s in a hurry and needs to get his crops in. We had suppliers on certain parts and operations that it just made sense to have a business that did this type of operation over and over for manufactures of all kinds of equipment other than the farm industry. They think in their world little differences don’t make a difference. But as in this case they were wrong to the extent of loss of life and or loss of property. In our business we required a the manufacture to submit a deviation for any operation from that which was different from that spelled out in the agreement for suppling a part. Apparently this wasn’t done here and I’m sure the attorneys will work it out but as in a lot of cases the buyer has to stand up for the faulty parts as the attorneys work out dollars and cents that is required to make the original purchaser of the parts whole. Time, money and inventory it’s always one of these elements that “gotcha”.

  3. That is a big time quality control screw up on the those laser cut holes. On laser cut holes you
    have to start inside of the radius and work your way out. If you start on the radius the laser will
    blow out a hole that will exceed the radius. I hope everything works out for Van’s.

    • You may recall from the presentation at AirVenture, Van’s specified a “pretzel like” tool path but that got changed by the vendor (supposedly) to one that started in the middle, traveled to the 6 o’clock position, went around the hole and came back at the 6 o’clock position again.

      • Nothing wrong with starting in the middle as long as you arc into the outside of the circle. When it stopped at the 6 o’clock position it did just that, it stopped and melted some of the material away or left a burr. You still need to Q.C. the work when it comes back from the vendor. I bet the person who changed the program did so to save time. There are a lot of holes in a airplane.
        He or she probably cut the time in half.

  4. For protection when purchasing big ticket items, (1) pay on loading if partials (2) Use an Escrow account, (3) letter of Credit, especially if foreign. IMO putting down big deposits on products not even made, leaves zero protection. Trust only in God.

  5. Rest assured, I have had the Best experiences directly from Van himself , He is as Honest a man you will find, an incredible business man ! Do not judge today and forget the Past. Me personally I bought my first RV-6 kit in 1996, have helped others build and finish their projects. Flying into North Plains many times , Art Chard was making parts with Van, for all of us then at that little home shop of Vans. Van has shared his passion of building, flying and selling the Best kit on the market for all of us to enjoy. The company has grown into this incredible supplier of Dreams for all of us to be able to pick the KIT that best represents our style of flying. As Van has said the last couple years have been a struggle in many ways, a few suppliers have caused a great upset to this fine Company, be patient , when Van says he will do something , it happens.
    I also want to give my Best to ALL the employees at Vans Aircraft, you all work very hard and we appreciate this very much.

  6. To Mr. Will Robinson, Chapter 11 is not Chapter 7. While both are court proceedings Chapter 11 is a re-organization not a liquidation (7). It is commonly referred to as a debtor-in-possession action. The Court appoints a trustee to make sure the benefits which accrue to a company within Chapter 11 comport with the Chapter 11 Bankruptcy rules. The ownership remains in place and steers the company through the re-organization. Chapter 11 also brings with it access to borrowed money (capital). The intent behind granting Chapter 11 status is to have Van’s re-emerge as a better stronger company.


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