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EBACE: Hawker Beechcraft stresses business as usual

Despite its financial woes Hawker Beechcraft was eager this morning to stress "it's business and usual" and to demonstrate a dogged optimism for the long-term future of the business and general aviation manufacturer, which celebrates its 80th anniversary this year.

Hawker Beechcraft earlier this month voluntarily entered into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection but says it is continuing to build, support and deliver aircraft to customers.

This was illustrated this morning by the handover of two Hawker 4000 business jets - one to charter company Orion Malta and the second to Romanian operator InterAviation. The super midsize business jet is one of eight aircraft Hawker Beechcraft is displaying at EBACE this year. The line-up also includes a Premier 1A entry-level business jet, a special mission King Air 350ER demonstrator, a 350i, a Baron G58 piston twin, an 800XPR - making its EBACE debut - and a 900XP. The midsize business jet is the latest version of the ubiquitous 125 series, now in its 50th year.

"The Hawker 125 series is one of the most iconic business aircraft in the industry," says Hawker's vice president for marketing, Ron Gunnarson. The twin-engined type completed its maiden flight on 13 August 1962 in the form of the Hawker Siddeley DH-125 Jet Dragon and entered service two years later. Over the past five decades, nearly 1,700 of the types have been produced.

The success of the 125 series is one of many iconic aircraft in the Hawker Beechcraft stable. "We have a well-respected global brand and a very large installed base," says Hawker Beechcraft executive vice president Shawn Vick. "The aircraft continue to sell well."

Hawker Beechcraft underlines this view by pointing to recent data issued by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. The US-headquartered trade body reveals that the 900XP accounted for 34% of business jet deliveries in the midsize sector last year while its King Air family represented 42% of business turboprop shipments during the same period. "More than 6,900 King Airs have been delivered since [the first model entered service in] 1962," says Sean McGeough, Hawker Beechcraft president, Europe, Middle East Africa and Asia Pacific. "We delivered 107 King Airs last year and the entire King Air series continues to be ordered at an impressive rate around the world."

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