Hawker Beechcraft is targeting Africa's booming mining sector in an attempt to boost the fortunes of its struggling business aircraft lines.
The beleaguered airframer - whose business and general aviation arm is being sought by China's Superior Aviation Beijing - says Africa has "some of the best growth prospects of any region in the world for business aircraft".
Africa is home to more than 30% of the world's mineral resources, it says, and is increasingly attracting investment from large multinational mining corporations.
"Mining revenue on the continent increased by over a third (36%) in the last year alone and shows little sign of abating," the company says. "With resources often found in remote locations, the continent's land transport infrastructure can lag behind the development of the mines, leading to an increased demand for airborne alternatives."
Hawker Beechcraft has a 65% share of Africa's turboprop market, it asserts, through its twin-engined King Air. "In Africa, the closest option to a passenger's final destination may currently be a short or unimproved runway. The King Air's ability to land on such airstrips can save valuable time and resources," it says.
In anticipation of further sales, the company has begun to beef up its support structure in Africa. It recently established authorised service centres at Lagos in Nigeria, and Lanseria in South Africa, and a further limited service centre in Cape Town. It has also appointed Johannesburg-based Absolute Aviation as its exclusive Beechcraft distributor for sub-Saharan Africa.
"As the continent continues to develop, we expect demand for business aircraft to grow as they provide access to remote parts of the region, cover huge distances and also help counter the limitations of the transport infrastructure, says Sean McGeough, Hawker Beechcraft president for Asia, Europe, Middle East and Africa. "Travelling by business aircraft is not only often the quickest way to travel, but sometimes is the only option," he adds.