Sen. Jerry Moran met with Textron CEO Scott Donnelly Friday afternoon, part of an effort to develop a closer working relationship with the head of Cessna Aircraft’s parent company and soon to be the head of Beechcraft Corp.
Textron is a substantial employer in Kansas and will soon be an even bigger one, Moran said.
In late December, Textron signed a deal to buy Beechcraft for about $1.4 billion. The sale is expected to close in the first half of this year.
“We know Cessna, and we know Beechcraft, but with their acquisition, I wanted to make sure I had a relationship with the (Textron) CEO,” Moran said after the meeting at company headquarters in Providence, R.I. “We had never met before.”
Never miss a local story.
The acquisition of Beechcraft is a positive development, Moran said, “in large part because the alternatives are nothing that we would want to have happen.”
The combination of the two companies can provide solid employment to the state and the manufacturing of airplanes to be proud of, Moran said. In addition, “both companies (Beechcraft and Cessna) can return to profitability under this scenario.”
Cessna employs 5,400 in Wichita, and Beechcraft has about 3,500 workers here.
Beechcraft emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February 2013. Cessna recorded a net loss of $48 million last year.
After the deal is finalized, there will still be a Beechcraft campus and a Cessna campus, Moran said Donnelly told him. “But there are many auxiliary services that can be combined to save money and to be more efficient.”
In the acquisition, there will be some economies of scale and some efficiencies, Donnelly told him.
“In my world, that translates into job loss,” Moran said. “No numbers were provided to me.”
Donnelly was complimentary about Wichita, Sedgwick County and the state of Kansas, which are doing “everything a community needs to do to attract business,” Moran said.
Moran and Donnelly also spoke about a variety of issues facing the general aviation industry, such as general aviation user fees and certification issues.
“We spent a lot of time visiting about certification and the need to get an FAA that does things in a timely fashion,” Moran said.
The FAA must respond more quickly to certification issues, he said.
“The point was made that a level playing field is very important, and their competitors are all foreign,” Moran said. “When we’re slow – if there’s a delay in certification – that’s not an experience their competitors have to suffer.”