Hawker Beechcraft Corp. (HBC) rolled up to MEBA 2012 with its full line of civil Beechcraft King Air twin turboprops over the past two days as it prepared for a key court hearing, taking place today in the U.S., probing whether it has to honor warranties on Hawker 4000s and Premier I jets if, as intended, it sells its Hawker jets business to rebrand as Beechcraft Corporation.
With bankruptcy court approval yesterday of Hawker Beechcraft’s disclosure statement filed with its joint plan of reorganization (POR), the company’s emergence from Chapter 11 appears to be accelerating. The court’s move allows Hawker Beechcraft to begin soliciting approval of the POR from its creditors.
Dying is one thing. Being reborn is quite another, as Hawker Beechcraft, its employees, lenders and creditors are discovering during the current bankruptcy and restructuring.
At the NBAA Convention last month, HBC chairman Bill Boisture explained recent events to that point and outlined the Wichita OEM’s future, which he confirmed will not include its business jet line.
Vancouver-based Avcorp won a $24.7 million award yesterday from Cessna Aircraft due to damages suffered as a result of the Wichita aircraft manufacturer’s transitioning contracted production work from Avcorp. The two parties could not come to terms in mediation and negotiations after the December 2010 announcement about the transition of Avcorp’s production work to Cessna, so the matter was referred to binding arbitration. The arbitrator ruled in favor of Avcorp and all counterclaims from Cessna were denied.
Bombardier Learjet’s unionized employees in Wichita, members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW), are back on the job after a five-week strike. Over the weekend, the Learjet production line workers voted to accept a proposed contract agreement, ending a strike that began on October 8.
Citing its intention to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as the standalone Beechcraft Corp., Hawker Beechcraft notified employees yesterday that it will begin the process of closing Hawker Beechcraft Services facilities in Little Rock, Ark.; Mesa, Ariz.; and San Antonio. The Wichita-based OEM also affirmed that approximately 240 employees will be affected at these locations.
Though the light and midsize jet markets yet await their resurgence from the depths of the past business cycle downturn, at Learjet there is a near palpable sense of anticipation that such a turnaround is looming. The Bombardier division currently has three new models preparing for entry into service next year—the Learjets 70, 75 and 85–and has embarked on a major expansion at its Wichita headquarters.
Bombardier is moving to upgrade its customer product support and training options. To that end, the company announced a major expansion of its service capabilities, including deployment of a fleet of mobile response trucks and three new regional support offices co-located with Bombardier factory-owned maintenance facilities in Tucson, Hartford and Fort Lauderdale.
After four months of intense negotiation, a deal for the sale of Hawker Beechcraft to Superior Aviation Beijing collapsed October 18 with an announcement by HBC that the parties could not come to terms and it would proceed with the stand-alone plan of reorganization.
A 12-day visit to China by a trade delegation from Wichita got off to a somewhat rocky start on Sunday when a scheduled meeting with Hawker Beechcraft suitor Superior Aviation Beijing was cancelled abruptly due to “sensitivity of the ongoing negotiations.” Superior Aviation submitted a bid in July to purchase bankrupt Hawker Beechcraft for $1.79 billion but an exclusivity period for negotiations granted by the court expired on September 1.