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Hawker briefs NBAA crowd on post-bankruptcy plans

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, at 8:59 a.m.
  • Updated Sunday, July 13, 2014, at 1:35 p.m.

— There is life after bankruptcy, Hawker Beechcraft officials stressed at a crowded press conference Monday at the National Business Aviation Association’s annual convention in Orlando.

Company officials spent an hour talking about the Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, what happened with failed talks with Superior Aviation Beijing, the company’s jet business, and life going forward as a re-energized Beechcraft Corp. after it emerges from the bankruptcy.

As a scaled down Beechcraft Corp., the company said it plans to add up to four offerings to its Baron and Beechjet lines.

Development hasn’t been possible as a financially struggling company, officials said.

As a well-funded stand-alone operation, the company will move forward with new and upgraded products.

The bankruptcy will allow the company to shed $2.5 billion in debt and stand up as a well funded entity, said Hawker Beechcraft chairman Bill Boisture.

It will work with the state to make adjustments if employment drops below the agreed-upon levels.

Hawker Beechcraft received six bids from interested parties from around the world for the company, officials said. With the decision now to emerge as a standalone company featuring its Beechjet, Baron, King Air and trainer products, the company will sell off or close its jet business.

It is now revisiting interest from those original parties plus talking to others.

The spectrum of options it’s exploring is vast. Those options include selling the jet business in its entirety with a new owner continuing to build jets, as well as selling the type certificates and talking to a group of Hawker jet owners who might want to own the company, Boisture said.

Those discussions are covered by non-disclosure agreements.

Boisture did not say how many people Beechcraft would employ as a new company. But the company has not been building jets for several months, he said.

“We continue to adjust the company’s production capacity to demand and production,” Boisture said.

It will report employment levels to the state, city and county under its incentive agreements in early 2013, he said.

“The benefits we receive under that program are tied to our level of employment,” Boisture said.

The company filed its revised reorganization plan Monday morning with the bankruptcy court.

Customers on Monday were receiving information about the support of their aircraft.

Going forward, warranties on the engines, avionics, airframes and systems of Hawker 900XPs, 750s and 400XPs will be honored and details are being developed.

Hawker 4000 and Premier 1A warranties for engines and avionics will be honored by suppliers. The company is in discussion with several companies working on an agreement to make sure owners will receive service, warranty support, maintenance, field service and parts and distribution services.

“These decisions are not insignificant,” Boisture said. “This was the best way to move forward to transform our company. These decisions are not easily taken.”

The next step is a hearing by the bankruptcy judge on Nov. 15 to review any objections to the reorganization plan. Results from that hearing are scheduled for Jan. 31, and then the company would plan to emerge from bankruptcy shortly after that, Boisture said.

Cessna upgrades Citation Sovereign

Cessna Aircraft introduced a new Citation Sovereign business jet — a significant upgrade of its current model.

The company also announced that its Citation Ten, an upgrade of its iconic Citation X, will change its name back to the Citation X.

The upgraded Sovereign is on display at the National Business Aviation Association’s annual convention.

Cessna has been working on the upgraded Sovereign for a year and a half, Cessna CEO Scott Ernest said in a crowded press conference inside the convention center.

The upgrade is building on a “fantastic plane,” Ernest said. “We have made it better.”

The Sovereign will feature a new cockpit with an upgraded avionics suite, increased range, new cabin amenities, such as the Cessna Clarity cabin management system, improved seat design, wireless broadband Internet, improved short runway performance and ground cooling performance and winglets.

The new Sovereigns are already in production.

The first deliveries are expected to begin in early 2013.

“It will be really really exciting,” said Cessna’s senior vice president of engineering Michael Thacker. “One of the exciting parts is how soon it’s available. I think we’ll get good response.”

The plane was designed with input from customers.

The show, which is expected to draw 25,000 attendees from around the world, opens Tuesday. But Monday is a full day of press conferences where business aviation companies announce new products and services and provide updates on their companies.

Cessna customers also told the company that they preferred the name of the Citation X to remain the same, instead of it switching to the Citation Ten.

“It was just an affinity for the nomenclature,” Thacker said. “It made sense to maintain that legacy.”

First deliveries of the upgraded plane will begin in late 2013.

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