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Gradient Gliders halt production

Wednesday 26 February, 2020

Gradient Gliders have stopped taking orders for new wings, and production has stopped altogether.

The company sent out an email to their dealers on Friday 21 February saying, “Gradient products are unavailable for the time being.”

It added: “Only gliders in stock are available to order. We will soon give you more information. We are sorry about this situation and we apologise for the inconvenience.”

Lukas Vorel who works for Gradient at their head office in Czech Republic confirmed that production of gliders had stopped.

He explained by email: “Production has already stopped. We are the last three people in the service centre and we do technical inspections. But we will be finished by the end of February.”

However, Gradient are not yet facing liquidation, according to their partner and ultimate owner, Supair.

Gradient was founded in 1997 by Ondrej Dupal, a leading Czech pilot at the time, with production based primarily in the Czech Republic. Ondrej ran the company for two decades before selling the company to Supair in June 2017. However, since then Gradient have struggled to maintain momentum.

Although Supair invested in Gradient and their EU manufacturing facility the two companies continued to operate independently, with separate R&D and marketing.

Supair’s boss, Laurent Chiabaut, said by email, “We are sad about the situation of course,” and confirmed that production is closed “for the time being”. He added that, “Gradient is not in liquidation. Gradient is continuing to deliver customers with stock.”

He explained: “When we bought Gradient the plan was to develop this brand and also to use the production for Supair.

“We started to produce part of the Supair range in the Gradient factory in 2018. We spent a lot of energy with the nice team in Czech Republic to try to make it work. The situation was not the one we expected and we planned.

“Gradient sales decreased a lot the last few years. We bought new premises in 2018 to set up modern production. We changed the organisation, and invested in people, but for many reasons, we did not succeed to make it run.”

He confirmed: “Production is closed for the time being. The brand still exists. Time is needed to see what can be done and the situation should be clearer in the near future.

“At the same time, Supair is developing quite strongly and we need to support its development.”

In a text message Gradient founder Ondrej Dupal said: “I finished at Gradient in June 2018. Since that time I have had no influence with Gradient … I am really sorry that this situation has occurred.”

Gradient have always offered a full range of wings, and have a large following of pilots. Gliders like the Aspen (EN C) series attracted sports class fans while the BiGolden tandem has been a favourite for many professional tandem pilots.

Gradient have 115 dealers worldwide, according to their website. Gradient’s social media pages have not been updated for a month.

Updated 26 February 2020

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