Hawker Beechcraft hit back this morning at NBAA with a plan to survive the emergence from bankruptcy with the proposed launch of three new turboprops and a piston.
The company, which is re-branding simply as Beechcraft early next year, said it will launch a turboprop version of the Premier 1 fuselage in the segment occupied between the King Air 90 and the King Air 250 as well as two new turboprops, including its first single-engine-powered turboprop to compete with rivals such as Pilatus and the TBM850.
Finally, a new piston will be launched and priced between the twin-engine Baron G58 and Bonanza G36. The company gave no indication as to whether this is a single or twin.
Indeed details were thin on the ground and Beechcraft released specifications only for a concept turboprop based on the Premier 1 with between eight and 11 seats and a range with four passengers of 1,750nm and a high-speed cruise of 302ktas.
The new products are possible because Beechcraft can emerge from the bankruptcy process having shed a $2.5 billion debt burden, which it traded for equity with the previous lenders of the company. Chief executive Bill Boisture says a restructured, leaner company will emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the first quarter of 2013 and seek a buyer to continue production of Hawker-series business jets.
The Wichita-based airframer announced on October 18 that exclusive acquisition talks with Superior Aviation Beijing had collapsed, forcing the company to refocus its strategy around continued production of Beechcraft products, as well as support for both Beechcraft turboprops and pistons and Hawker jets.
Although the "complex" transaction with Superior was unsuccessful, Chinese buyers are among the companies that could come forward to buy Hawker production lines, Boisture.
Meanwhile, Hawker Beechcraft will "renew discussions with former bidders and other interested parties that have approached us about Hawker."
Boisture also says certain products, such as the Hawker 4000, will not become orphaned jets as the company spins off the production line. "The Hawker 4000 type certificate will be in responsible hands and the continuous airworthiness responsibility that comes with that will be executed on behalf of the OEM [original equipment manufacturer]," Boisture says.
At the same time, however, Boisture says it is premature to lay out specific plans about whether the post-bankruptcy Beechcraft or another company will support the Hawker 4000.
Hawker Beechcraft filed for bankruptcy protection on May 3, and wiped $2.5 billion in debt off its balance sheet by trading it for equity with the company's lenders. It then entered exclusive talks with Superior, a China-based aviation parts and kit-built helicopter supplier, in early July.
Boisture says demand has remained strong for King Airs and T-6s, but no recovery is yet in sight for light and mid-size jets from the post-2007 market downturn.
"The worldwide market for business and general aviation airplanes at lower price points remain a difficult market both presently and in the next year," he says. "But we like the way the King Air and the piston products have performed."
For more news, images, and video visit our dedicated NBAA 2012 page