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Hawker Beechcraft bankruptcy plan outlines 3 options

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, June 15, 2012, at 9:27 a.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013, at 6:03 a.m.

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The 3 options

Hawker Beechcraft

According to documents filed as part Hawker Beechcraft’s bankruptcy, the company is considering changes in its lineup of products.

Option A

This option would mean the exit of all business jet production, the continued production of Beechcraft and military aircraft, the pursuit of additional T-6 trainer business and a commitment of resources to further develop the AT-6, the attack version of the T-6.

It consolidates its production facilities in Chester, England, Little Rock, Ark., Plants 2 and 3 in Wichita and its logistic center and reduces overhead staffing to reflect the reduced needs of a simpler product line.

The option stops company support of its Hawker 4000 and Premier installed base, halts engineering support for the two models and transfers warranty and other support to a “residual” buyer. Hawker 900 support would continue.

Under this scenario, the company projects 2013 revenue of $2.4 billion, with revenue rising annually to $2.35 billion in 2016.

Of the three options, this scenario projects the highest margins for the company.

On the other hand, the risks associated with the option include the cost of closing its Hawker 900 and Hawker 4000 programs, the risk of lower employee morale and the risk of reducing overhead and “rightsizing.”

Option B

This option calls for the continuation of Beechcraft and military aircraft production and retains production of the Hawker 900 business jet.

It also keeps the Little Rock production facility.

The scenario stops support for the Hawker 4000 and Premier installed base, halts its engineering support and transfers of its warranty and support to a residual buyer. It would continue to support the Hawker 800 and 900 fleet.

The company also would invest long term in the Hawker 900 to keep it competitive.

Under this scenario, the company projects 2013 revenue of $2.45 billion in 2013, rising annually to $2.91 billion in 2016.

The benefits of this option include a “good leverage” for potential price improvement in the mid-size jet segment, and it keeps the company in the jet business.

Risks include making sure products are competitive by 2015.

Option C

Option C also continues production of Beechcraft and military products and retains production of the Hawker 900 and Hawker 4000 jets.

To make the Hawker 4000 financially viable, however, would require a 20 percent material cost reduction, it said, something that is “highly unlikely” to achieve.

“Failure of such reductions will render continued production of the H4000 impractical,” the document said

Under Option C, the company would make long-term investments to keep the Hawker 4000 competitive and would continue to support warranty and service agreements for the Premier and Hawker 4000 business jets.

The scenario forecasts 2013 revenue of $2.85 billion rising to $3.54 billion in 2016.

On the other hand, it requires supplier concessions, constrains facility consolidation and is highly complex.

The document also debates the pros and cons of shutting down the Hawker 900 line. Keeping the model has benefits.

If the market improves, for example, the plane won’t likely face new competition until 2015, and it would maintain the Hawker brand for “future growth opportunities.”

Shutting down production, however, simplifies its operations and the management of facilities in Little Rock and Chester.

But by 2015, the Hawker 900 will face significant competition from Embraer’s Legacy 450 and 500, Bombardier’s Learjet 85 and Cessna’s Citation Latitude.

To keep the model competitive would require an investment of $40 million to $60 million for avionics and interior upgrades.

Hawker Beechcraft’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing includes a plan called “Project Flight,” which assesses what the company could look like as it emerges from reorganization.

The document, among the materials provided by Hawker Beechcraft as an exhibit when the company filed for bankruptcy last month, outlines three options, each one eliminating all or some business jet models.

The “strategic options” assessment, dated April 5, gives the court and the public an indication of the direction that Hawker Beechcraft CEO Robert “Steve” Miller envisions for the debt-plagued aircraft manufacturer.

In all three options, Hawker Beechcraft would keep its military aircraft, King Air and piston business. But all three options eliminate the Premier jet program and halt development of the Hawker 200, an upgraded Premier.

Two of the three options halt production of the Hawker 4000 business jet. One option eliminates business jet production altogether.

“It’s not good news,” Teal Group aerospace analyst Richard Aboulafia said of the options.

“There’s no way to put a brave face on this,” Aboulafia said. “They are getting rid of debt, but they’re also getting rid of product and market share. It’s not a happy story. It means that a lot of the very hard work in creating new technology and new products over the last 15 years have reached somewhat of a dead end.”

As the company moves through the bankruptcy process, there has been speculation about whether ownership of the company would change and how – and whether it would remain intact or whether parts of it might be sold.

In the filing, the company said all three options regarding products are subject to revision and change.

Parts of Hawker Beechcraft would be attractive to buyers, Aboulafia said.

“But the idea of anybody buying it outright and preserving all its product lines seems like a remote prospect at this point,” Aboulafia said.

Along with the restructuring, Hawker Beechcraft has said it’s accepting offers from potential buyers.

Bids from interested parties were due earlier this month, but they won’t be made public as part of the bankruptcy filing, company spokeswoman Nicole Alexander said.

Hawker Beechcraft intends to emerge as an independent company, Alexander last month. “But as is the case with every other company, we must evaluate all of our options in order to be positioned for the future.”

Its approach

In its approach to assessing its options, Hawker Beechcraft revisited the organization from the “bottom up,” considering cash flow, brands and execution risk for the period 2013 to 2016, the filing said.

“Three natural alternatives were identified for modeling purposes,” it said.

The assessments assume a stable market share in pistons, turboprops and mid-size jets, moderate industry volume recovery from the depressed levels of 2009 to 2011, and a normalization of pricing.

And they take into account a restructured balance sheet from the bankruptcy and the continuation of the employee’s pension plan.

The company plans to file a restructuring plan with the court by June 30 and expects to emerge from bankruptcy by the end of the year.

Hawker Beechcraft manufactures business jet, turboprop and piston aircraft, special mission and trainer and attack aircraft under the Hawker and Beechcraft names.

It also operates a global network of more than 100 service centers that support a fleet of more than 34,000 aircraft currently in service.

Hawker Beechcraft filed for bankruptcy restructuring in May following a prolonged downturn in the business jet market and carrying a heavy debt load it took on when Goldman Sachs and Onex Partners bought the company in 2007 from Raytheon Inc.

The bankruptcy will eliminate $2.5 billion in debt. The company also secured a $400 million loan to help it conduct business during the restructuring process.

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com

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