August 16, 2012
Hawker Beechcraft is asking a New York bankruptcy court to establish a four-month timeline to determine whether it is using Pilatus Aircraft intellectual property for the design of the T-6/AT-6 military trainer and if payments must be made immediately for that use.
Pilatus, meanwhile, has asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York to make that determination in a much shorter time frame, arguing Hawker Beechcraft should be ordered to immediately catch up and continue making royalty payments.
The court was scheduled to hear arguments over the claim on Aug. 14, but has rescheduled the hearing for Aug. 30. Hawker Beechcraft has outlined a time frame that would stretch out deliberations on the case for most of the duration of its expected bankruptcy proceedings. But the company says the case must be fully vetted with time for discovery and an evidentiary hearing to determine whether Pilatus has a valid claim.
Pilatus claims that under a 2004 agreement, Hawker Beechcraft (then Raytheon Aircraft) was granted the exclusive right to manufacture and market the trainer or derivative aircraft based on the design of a modified Pilatus PC-9 single turboprop. That aircraft, Pilatus says, “contain[s] the intellectual property of Pilatus.”
The trainer has been used as the platform for the U.S. Air Force/Navy Joint Primary Aircraft Training System (JPATS) contract, along with a number of international programs. The aircraft is also Hawker Beechcraft’s platform for the U.S. Air Force’s Light Air Support program competition.
Pilatus argues that without the agreement, Hawker Beechcraft would have “no product that would have permitted it to enter into such contracts, and the trainer/attack segment of the debtors’ business would not exist.”
Pilatus says Hawker Beechcraft stopped making royalty payments after it entered bankruptcy protection, even though it continues to produce the aircraft and accept payments for its sale.
But in court documents, Hawker Beechcraft disputes the claim.