Hawker Beechcraft reported continued strong sales in the first quarter, though costs associated with Hawker 4000 certification and delivery delays resulted in the Wichita aircraft manufacturer posting a $1.5 million loss for the period. The company reported net bookings of $1.1 billion during the three-month span, resulting in a record backlog of $6.8 billion.
Bombardier Aerospace late last week announced that it will manufacture the all-composite structure for the new Learjet 85 at its facility in Querétaro, Mexico. In addition, the Querétaro site will be responsible for making the electrical harness and performing subassembly systems installation for the twinjet.
AeroCourier Group announced it received a launch order for 20 aircraft from AirShares Elite. The turboprop freight hauler is currently in the first year of a three-year design and development program, and the company said it has raised an undisclosed amount of seed money to start development work in its Bloomington., Minn., and Wichita operations.
More than 18 months after it was revealed that Cessna was seeking corporate approval to build its largest ever Citation service center in Wichita, Cessna announced last month the project is a go. Construction is set to start before year-end on a 443,000-sq-ft facility at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport on a 150-acre site leased to Cessna by the Wichita Airport Authority.
FlightSafety International plans a $2.5 million, 28,600-sq-ft expansion to its Cessna Learning Center in Wichita to enable the addition of simulators for the Citation Excel, Citation X and the new Citation Sovereign now under development. The expanded facility also will have space for two more simulators. Construction was expected to start soon. Currently, the Cessna Learning Center has 10 simulators.
More than 200 pilots and other crewmembers representing 94 different business aircraft operators attended Bombardier’s sixth annual Safety Standdown, held in Wichita from October 22 to 24. The free three-day event provided recurrent and update training for business aircraft crews and included hands-on training simulations and presentations covering fatigue countermeasures, aviation psychology, applied aerodynamics and professional airmanship.
In her first official visit outside Washington since she took office, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey traveled to Wichita last month, where she toured Raytheon Aircraft and Cessna and spoke with others at General Aviation Manufacturers Association member companies.
One OEM called it “an adjustment.” Another referred to it as a “reduction in force.” Yet another described an “involuntary separation plan.” But by those or any other names, the meaning is the same– “layoffs.” In the past 18 months, business aircraft manufacturers have announced layoffs of more than 9,000 workers and, barring a reversal of the current economic trend, there will be more.
“We are dedicated to expanding our worldwide Citation product network and doubling the capacity of our Cessna-owned service facilities during the next five years,” according to Cessna v-p of service facilities Jim Morgan.
Placing the blame primarily on a “severe downturn” in the U.S. business aviation market, Canadian OEM Bombardier last week slashed its net-income target for the current fiscal year by 21 percent. The company, which saw its business aircraft deliveries drop from 114 in the first half of last year to 74 for the same period this year, said the forecast includes a “one-time charge” to write down the value of used business aircraft.