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Hawker a company in flux at convention

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, at 11:51 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013, at 6:03 a.m.

Hawker Beechcraft arrives at this year’s National Business Aviation Association’s annual show as a company in transition.

The company, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May, announced last week that it will emerge from bankruptcy early next year as a slimmed-down, stand-alone company after talks with China’s Superior Aviation Beijing broke off.

Hawker Beechcraft is now exploring the sale of its jet business, but will cease jet operations if no buyer is found.

As Beechcraft Corp., the new name of the slimmed-down company, it will focus on its piston-powered and King Air aircraft, along with its military products.

While he expects there will be a lot of questions from customers during the show, Shawn Vick, Hawker Beechcraft’s executive vice president of customers, said he’s proud of the organization’s commitment to stay in close communications and keep staff and clients informed.

“We have been as transparent as one can be throughout the process while acknowledging there are certain elements of confidentiality that have to wait until the right time and the right place to have a discussion,” Vick said.

Will there be questions? Vick asked.

“Yes.”

“Will our people be prepared to communicate with them equally in an informed way? You betcha,” he said.

The company’s management team is working to file an amended reorganization plan with the court in the next few days.

That way, communication can unfold at NBAA concurrently with filings on the matter, Vick said.

“It’s possible to have that open dialogue at that time,” he said. “We’re working very diligently to accomplish it.”

But the company must work with various constituents, such as debt holders and others, on its plans and the timing of court filings.

Hawker Beechcraft, as it has in the past two years, plans to have a large presentation at the static display in Orlando and an exhibit in the convention hall focusing on its global customer support.

The company supports 36,000 Beechcraft and Hawker airplanes in service worldwide.

It has $400 million in parts and inventory in 17 warehouses around the world, along with the expert technical and field support to go with it.

“There is definitely a reason to display our service and support functions,” he said.

The company plans to display a special mission King Air, its piston and turboprop products, plus the Hawker 900 and Hawker 4000 business jets.

What also will be present at the show is the fortitude of the employees of Hawker Beechcraft.

“The intangible is that given the challenges that have been dealt with and overcome by this company and by its people, given the macroeconomic headwinds that have existed for everyone in every industry, the people who will be there representing our company are representing a company that is remarkably resilient, who have a clear pathway to get to that future,” Vick said.

There is not a lot of ambiguity in its mission as the company takes care of its installed base, the products it’s manufacturing and its view toward the investment it needs to make in new products.

“It is a testament to the people in this company past and present that enabled us to be here,” Vick said.

The company is looking forward to the convention, Vick said.

“It’s a great chance for us to have interface with the markets,” he said. “We expect increased international participation.”

In addition, the company is pleased with where it is in the booking orders.

“We’re doing very well, thank you,” Vick said, who added that the company heads to NBAA with clarity, purpose and conviction in its conversations with its installed base of customers.

“I feel good about it,” Vick said. “I really do.”

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

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