Hawker Beechcraft Sees Future in Turboprops
Hawker Beechcraft is moving ahead with restructuring during Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and in a press conference here yesterday HBC chairman Bill Boisture made it clear the new Beechcraft Corp. that emerges in the first quarter of next year will focus on the turboprop and piston aircraft lines.
The future for the business jet line is somewhere between murky at best and grim at worst, with production already shut down. Negotiations came apart in early October that might have seen the jet line, reportedly along with the rest of HBC’s civil aircraft assets, sold to Superior Aviation Beijing.
Boisture attributed the failed acquisition to a number of factors, including the challenges of conducting negotiations across cultural and language barriers, as well as a requirement for approval of the deal by both the Chinese and U.S. governments. While Superior Aviation Beijing’s $1.79 billion bid has fallen through, Boisture said HBC is now revisiting half a dozen other bids that came in at the same time with an eye to selling the business jet line.
With the new Beechcraft Corp. exiting the jet business, the company sought to clarify its position with regard to warranties. Regarding the Hawker 4000 and Premier IA, HBC will ask the bankruptcy court for “permission to cancel certain warranties and factory-sponsored programs, including our guaranteed maintenance program SupportPlus and the Hawker 4000 Upgrade and Enhancement program.” Engine warranties will be unaffected and will remain the responsibility of the respective suppliers.
HBC said it is in discussions with several third-party companies regarding alternatives that will provide continued services and maintenance for Hawker 4000 and Premier IA operators.
During the restructuring, Hawker Beechcraft Global Customer Support will remain available to provide service, maintenance and technical support for aircraft via Hawker Beechcraft Services facilities and the Hawker Beechcraft Parts and Distribution network.
As for the Hawker 900XP, Hawker 750 and Hawker 400XP, “All warranties, including those for engines, avionics, airframe and systems, will continue to be honored in the ordinary course of business.”
The company said it plans to replace existing SupportPlus agreements with an amended agreement tailored to out-of-production aircraft, “details of which are still being evaluated.” But there will be no lapse in coverage during the transition.
While HBC is moving toward its resurrection as Beechcraft Corp., it has not ignored research and development and yesterday announced plans for three new turboprop airplanes. The company provided some detail about two of the projects. One is a twin occupying a market niche between the King Air 250 and King Air 90. Another might be a pleasant surprise to King Air fans who have long hoped for a single-engine variant.
The other turboprop described would mate a single turboprop engine with the fuselage of the Premier IA twinjet. Performance expectations and a rendering proposal offered by HBC executive v-p of customers Shawn Vick showed an airplane seating one pilot and 8 to 11 passengers in a cabin 5.5 feet wide, 5.4 feet high and 20.4 feet long. The max range (IFR NBAA) with four passengers would be 1,750 nm and high-speed cruise 302 knots at FL250. The airplane would have a max payload of 2,800 pounds and a full-fuel payload of 1,650 pounds.
Also listed, but with no additional details, was a new piston single between the Bonanza and Baron.
Continuing, Vick said that HBC expects to come through the bankruptcy process with a new company that is “strong, resolute, focused” and that might be producing 600 aircraft a year. He concluded by inviting attendees at the convention to stop by the HBC exhibit, or the static line at Orlando Executive Airport, where the entire aircraft line is on display.