Raytheon Aircraft is studying the market for very light jets and suggests a smaller aircraft to fit under its Premier I light business jet would complement its Beechcraft product line.


"The typical progression [for pilots] is from a piston to a turboprop to a jet," says Randy Groom, president of Beechcraft,  which also offers the Baron and Bonanza piston aircraft and King Air family of turboprops. "But it is too early to commit to this market," he adds. "We do not want to be a part of the 'me too' culture, so we will watch and wait to see how the market is going to develop."


Groom says that, while there is no shortage of enthusiasm in the industry for the very light jet concept, the viability of this market is a key consideration for Raytheon. This includes the question of how the projected market size will impact production volumes and the cost structure of the manufacturer. "If and when we do proceed, it will be a clean sheet of paper aircraft," Groom says.


Raytheon, in the meantime, is striving to improve international customer support across its Hawker and Beechcraft aircraft families, says Raytheon customer support vice- president Ed Dolanski.


In its latest move, Raytheon will open next month a European spares distribution centre at Liege airport in Belgium, in partnership with Palno, Texas-based logistics specialist PFSWeb.


Investing in a European parts and distribution facility, Dolanski says, is designed to overcome the international shipping delays imposed by US Customs after 11 September 2001. The 13,000m2 (140,000ft2) fully automated facility will replicate the parts availability of its Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas warehouse, carrying $10 million worth of spares initially, Dolanski says.


The Liege base, also a hub for  FedEx and TNT Airways, will enable European suppliers to dispatch spares more quickly and cheaply than from the Dallas facility. In Liege, Raytheon will implement fast turnaround inventory distribution techniques adopted by major retail companies, Dolanski says.


Source: Flight International