Sino Swearingen Aircraft Corporation SSAC (ICAO name: SINO SWEARINGEN) is an aircraft manufacturer. Their primary product is the Swearingen SJ30-2 small business jet. The company's headquarters is in San Antonio, Texas, with additional assembly facility in the John D. Rockefeller IV Technology Center at Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport - Martinsburg (KMRB) in Martinsburg, West Virginia.
The company was founded as Swearingen Aircraft by Ed Swearingen in 1959. Early work by the company included the development of prototype aircraft for other manufacturers; such as the Twin Comanche prototype developed for Piper Aircraft during 1962 and the development of several research helicopters for the Bell Helicopter Company, work which led to the HueyCobra. The company also developed modifications of other designs, an activity Ed Swearingen had been involved in prior to his forming Swearingen Aircraft. These modification programmes included the Excalibur 800 conversion of the Beechcraft Twin Bonanza, so-called because the output of its two new Lycoming IO-720 engines was 800 horsepower; airframe improvements included modifying the cabin to allow entry via an airstair instead of over the RH wing via a door on the RH side of the cockpit, and landing gear doors that fully enclosed the gear when it was retracted. The airstair was factory-fitted by Beechcraft during manufacture of the ultimate J50 model of the Twin Bonanza. The Queen Air development of the Twin Bonanza also received the Swearingen treatment, the Queen Air Excalibur having less-extensive modifications also involving fitment of 400 hp (300 kW) IO-720s, replacing the more troublesome and lower-power geared Lycoming engines installed at manufacture, and the enclosed landing gear doors (the Queen Air was designed from the outset with an airstair). The US Army had several of its U-8 versions of the Queen Air modified to this standard. Excalibur aircraft are easily distinguishable from standard Twin Bonanzas and Queen Airs by the landing gear doors and the more rectangular engine cowlings of the Excaliburs compared to the rounded cowlings of the originals.
The Excaliburs led to the first Swearingen design, the SA26 Merlin, which could be described as a pressurized Excalibur. The Merlin had modified Queen Air wings with redesigned fuel tanks, Queen Air horizontal tails, and Twin Bonanza landing gear. The Merlin's fuselage and vertical fin represented Swearingen's contribution to the overall design. The next step was turbine power, through the SA26-T Merlin IIA with Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6s and the follow-on SA26-AT Merlin IIB with Garrett TPE331 turboprops. Next came the all-new SA226-T Merlin III with new wings, landing gear and cruciform horizontal tail mated to a slighly-stretched version of the fuselage used on the Merlin II series. The design effort reached its logical conclusion with the Metro series of 19-seat airline aircraft, the first of which had its first flight on August 26, 1969. By this time the company was in financial difficulties and lacked the resources to proceed further, so the Metro did not enter production until Swearingen Aircraft was taken over by Fairchild in 1972. The company was then renamed the Swearingen Aviation Corporation with Ed Swearingen a 10% shareholder and Chairman of the Board of directors. When the last Metro 23 left the production line in 1998, a total of 1,053 Merlins and Metros had been produced, comprising 350 short-fuselage Merlins and 703 long-fuselage Merlins and Metros.
In 1973 Ed Swearingen formed a new company and went back to modifying aircraft, developing a new version of the Lockheed Jetstar on behalf of the manufacturer and Garrett. The modifications entailed installing new Garrett TFE731 engines and aerodynamic improvements to the airframe, increasing the Jetstar's range from 1,800 nautical miles (3,330 km) to 2,600 nautical miles (4,820 km) with no increase in fuel capacity. The company then manufactured jet engine nacelles and other aircraft components as a subcontractor to various manufacturers including Cessna, Gates Lear Jet and Dassault. On May 1, 1982 Ed Swearingen resigned from Fairchild and exercised his right to reacquire the Swearingen business name. Fairchild changed the name of Swearingen Aviation to Fairchild Aircraft Corporation and Ed Swearingen's company then became the Swearingen Aircraft Corporation.
The company devoted its energies to developing a new small jet for the general aviation market, which was eventually developed into the SJ30-2. The company was renamed Sino Swearingen in 1995 and it was converted into a limited company from a partnership in November 5, 1999. Financial backers of the company include the ??? Ministry of Economic Affairs, - Government of Taiwan. The company is privately held, and sales for 2005 are reported at US$ 25.3 million.
SSAC has spent over 12 years and over US$600 million in total investment to this date in the development of SJ30-2. Majority control is presently held by Action Aviation, Sino Swearingen’s largest distributor, and investment group, ACQ Capital. Previously, total shares held by Taiwanese shareholders accounted for approximately 91.6% and represented an aggregate investment of more than US$575 million over the years.