Hawker Beechcraft employees at the Farnborough air show were offering no comment to Monday's surprise agreement to sell its business and general aviation aircraft division to China's Superior Aviation Beijing.
The struggling airframer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May and announced earlier this month that it had whittled down its list of potential buyers from 35 to six.
This $1.79 billion deal with Superior does not include Hawker Beechcraft Defense Company, which will remain a separate entity, the company says.
According to Hawker Beechcraft, Superior will provide funding over the next six weeks to support the manufacturer's ongoing operations, "saving thousands of jobs in Wichita and Little Rock, Arkansas", it says.
Hawker Beechcraft chief executive Steve Miller says: "We believe a transaction with Superior would maximise value for Hawker Beechcraft and its stakeholders. Importantly, this combination would give Hawker Beechcraft greater access to the Chinese business and general aviation marketplace, which is forecast to grow more than 10% a year for the next 10-15 years."
Hawker Beechcraft chief executive Steve Miller chairman Bill Boisture says the company's decision to sell to Superior was based on two key factors. "The bid for the company was the most attractive we received during the strategic review process and the going-forward plan offered the most continuity for our business, allowing us to preserve jobs, product lines and our ability to maintain our commitments to our customers.
"Superior is committed to maintaining Hawker Beechcraft's strong presence in the US and retaining its current employee base and experienced management team, while positioning the company for future growth at home and abroad."
Superior's exclusivity agreement gives Miller 45 days to hammer out a definitive agreement.
If the deal collapses, the airframer says it will proceed with its bankruptcy reorganisation plan.