Beechcraft Reshapes, Returns To Roots

By Kerry Lynch
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology
August 05, 2013
Credit: Beechcraft

Beechcraft continues to remold itself as it weighs bids for its Hawker 4000 and Premier aircraft programs, looks to downsize its footprint and sets out to return to its roots.

The Wichita airframer, which exited Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February without the Hawker name, “got interest in all” bids on July 2 for the Hawker 4000 and Premier type certificates, along with associated spare parts, tooling and facilities, and hopes to wrap up a sale by the end of the year, CEO Bill Boisture said during a roundtable with Aviation Week editors.

In addition to selling the airplane programs themselves, Beechcraft is offering the associated paint and completions plant in Little Rock, Ark. But that is just a part of a number of ongoing downsizing efforts to strengthen its core businesses.

Beechcraft also has consolidated its piston and turboprop production into a single facility in Wichita, closing the piston-only plant. That facility, Boisture says, is on its way to becoming a big-box store. Other plans include efforts to sell its composites plant (Plant 3) in Wichita, along with the associated technologies. The sale of Plant 3 and property at the south end of the Beechcraft campus will reduce its vaunted “square mile” on Wichita's east side by about 20%.

The decision to sell off the composites-technology assets—after failing to find profitability in them over the past three decades through three different aircraft programs—will enable Beechcraft to become a much simpler company that does not have to divert resources to support the composite programs, including Hawker 4000 and Premier. Boisture says composites and the associated aircraft did not have the “ilities”—reliability, maintainability, operability—that are needed.

The company has a number of bidders, Boisture says, but he would not predict how the sale would proceed. Interest ranges from those seeking to purchase of all of the assets to those wanting groups of them, and others just interested in specific pieces.

He envisions purchasers of the Hawker 4000 and Premier programs will establish a company similar to Sabreliner to support the 400 aircraft in their collective fleets. He is more skeptical about the likelihood those aircraft will return to production. Such an effort would take 4-5 years and an investment of $200-300 million, he says. “Unless there was a strategic national [interest], you probably wouldn't undertake it,” he adds.

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