Beechcraft Reshapes, Returns To Roots

By Kerry Lynch
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology

Without those programs, Beechcraft can sharpen its mission to reestablish its brand in the market and restore customer and supplier confidence. Boisture was upbeat on its progress, saying that despite the bankruptcy process, suppliers have worked closely with the company. Customers have provided positive feedback, he adds. “Beechcraft customers know the focus of the company was diffused through Hawker Beechcraft,” he says.

As for branding, the company is returning to its roots, he says, noting that prior to the past couple of decades, “Beechcraft had been one of the benchmarks.” But in recent decades it had been “pummeled.”

The company is hoping to stabilize following several years of financial uncertainty. It emerged from bankruptcy protection without 85% of its former $2.4 billion in debt, along with production of its costly jet programs.

As a result, the company will be profitable this year and will not have to draw on its line of credit. The company, which now employs 5,400 workers worldwide, is expected to bring in $1.8 billion in revenues, about one-quarter of which will come from its defense/training business, another 35-40% from Global Customer Support and the remainder from its commercial aircraft enterprise—30% of that from special-mission aircraft.

A by-product of the elimination of debt and sale of its unprofitable jet programs and composites technology is the ability of Beechcraft to invest trifold into its now core competencies—pistons, turboprops and military/trainer/special-mission aircraft. Boisture is hesitant to provide details on new products, telling Aviation Week earlier this year that as the company regained its footing, he wanted to “talk a lot less” about new aircraft and instead assume a “Skunk Works mentality.” The company has stated, however, that it expects to bring new diesel variants of the Bonanza and Baron aircraft to market by the end of 2014 and remains “highly interested” in the single-turboprop market.

Beechcraft is trying to determine which parameters would differentiate a single turboprop in the market—who the competition and what the cost would be, he says, though he would not elaborate about the timing. As for the diesel variants, Boisture notes the difficulty in obtaining aviation gasoline in international markets. “We know we've got to make some changes” to keep them in production.

While striving for stability, Boisture acknowledges that some changes may be pending. Three of the major shareholders specialize in distressed properties. In those cases, the question comes up on whether they are long-term owners. “I wouldn't think so,” he says.


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