Aircraft Medical returns to black after legal battles

Chief executive Matt McGrath said the firm is profitable again. Picture: Contributed
Chief executive Matt McGrath said the firm is profitable again. Picture: Contributed
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AIRCRAFT Medical, the Edinburgh-based healthcare device maker, has returned to the black as it continues to bounce back from a series of long-running legal fights against a rival.

The company – which produces video laryngoscopes, ­devices fitted with cameras that help medics to put breathing tubes down patients’ throats – won cases in the UK and United States this year and last year against rival Verathon Medical.

Although Aircraft Medical had turned its first profit in 2009, fees for fighting its legal battles and product development costs pushed the technology business back into the red.

But founder and chief executive Matt McGrath has now revealed the company is profitable once again after winning a record order for 300 of its devices from a US hospital group.

Speaking to The Scotsman from a business trip to Hong Kong, McGrath said that the firm was also making headway in the emergency medical services market after securing a contract for 100 devices for use in helicopters in the US.

But he remained tight-lipped over how much profit the company was making, or even on its turnover figures, despite hailing “record sales” during the opening quarter of its financial year.

The most recent accounts filed by the firm at Companies House were abbreviated due to its small size. Its next figures are due to be posted by September.

McGrath’s comments came as Aircraft Medical today “put its competitors on notice” by sending them copies of more than 50 published patents and 20 design rights in markets including China, Europe, Japan and the US.

McGrath said: “This is a major step for us. There’s a critical mass with our portfolio, with many patents being granted and others being published.

“So we decided that we would proactively put our competitors on notice of certain patents in our portfolio.

“It’s an advertisement of our strength, but it’s also giving an opportunity for our competitors to pay attention to rights that exist around our products. Effectively, it’s sending them patents that they ought to be reading.”

The move comes just months after the firm appointed Philippa Montgomerie as its commercial director and general counsel. She had served as the company’s lawyer while practising at the Scottish office of international law firm, DLA Piper.

Aircraft Medical flirted with a stock market flotation in 2005 but, while McGrath admitted an initial public offering was still on the table, the company said that it currently has all the finance it needs.