A business delegation from Wichita, headed by Mayor Carl Brewer, plans an extensive trip to the People’s Republic of China, and the possible sale of Hawker Beechcraft to Superior Aviation Beijing is likely to be a subject of discussions there. While examining business relationships and renewal of the sister-city relationship with Kaifeng, Brewer said he expects to meet with Superior Aviation chairman Cheng Shenzong on Sunday.
Bombardier Learjet workers in Wichita represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) went on strike early yesterday morning, following a vote on Saturday to reject a proposed labor agreement. Members of IAM Local 639 overwhelmingly rejected Bombardier’s proposal, with 79 percent opposed to the five-year offer. An equal number of union members authorized a strike, setting the stage for the walkout yesterday.
Hawker Beechcraft, which is in the process of restructuring under U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, posted a $33.8 million net loss on sales totaling $149.9 million last month. In documents filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York earlier this week, the company reported spending $1.5 million on restructuring costs, $5.4 million on reorganization items and $8.8 million on research and development.
As progress continues on the construction of the first flight-test Bombardier Learjet 85, the airframer said this week that it sees a niche for a smaller follow-on model of the all-composite midsize jet. “I think there is an opportunity between the 75 and the 85,” Learjet vice president and general manager Ralph Acs told journalists this week during a media event. “Our entire notion all along has been that you can come up with a platform and then you spin that to other things.”
The Learjet 60XR was featured in a recent episode of National Geographic Channel’s Megafactories TV series. In this episode, the assembly of businessman David Morgan’s $14 million Learjet 60XR is highlighted to tell the story of how each business jet is assembled at the Wichita plant, as well as how Bombardier Learjet has reinvented itself to optimize production. The film crew captured how the production line runs and the technical expertise and monumental logistics behind each aircraft.
In response to a request by Hawker Beechcraft seeking a 120-day extension of the exclusive period during which only the company can file a reorganization plan, a judge in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York today agreed to maintain exclusivity through the end of February.
Hawker Beechcraft will not exit bankruptcy by year-end as originally projected, if the court allows the Wichita-based aircraft manufacturer’s request for a 120-day extension filed late Thursday. A court hearing on the extension request is scheduled for August 30.
In line with what Hawker Beechcraft describes as its “continued focus on the international market,” the Wichita, Kansas-based OEM announced at LABACE that it has launched its new Portuguese-language website.
Citing its own research and that of Corporate Jet Investor in the UK, Hawker Beechcraft expects strong growth in demand for business aviation financing in Brazil over the next five years.
The Wichita-based OEM said the study reveal that, in Brazil, 46.9 percent of experts anticipate demand for business aviation financing to increase “dramatically between now and 2017,” and 40.6 percent expect only a slight increase. Only China has higher expected growth, Hawker Beechcraft noted.
Superior Aviation Beijing Co. Ltd., the Chinese company vying to buy Hawker Beechcraft, has hired Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm Locke Lord Strategies to represent it on “aviation issues” in the U.S. Capitol. Locke Lord is also providing legal advice to Superior as it works to finalize its $1.79 billion deal for the Wichita-based aircraft manufacturer. According to the lobbying registration report, Locke Lord partners Phil Rivers, Mark Siegel and Shane Doucet, as well as senior policy adviser Walter Smith Jr., are handling the account.