Hawker Beechcraft informed its employees Friday that it is slowing development of its Hawker 200 program in the midst of a “fragile, global economic situation.”
“As you are aware, our industry is facing one of the most challenging markets in its history,” Bill Boisture, Hawker Beechcraft chairman and CEO, said in a letter to employees. “The light jet segment has been particularly hard hit.”
Economists and industry analysts agree that the timing of recovery in the market remains uncertain, Boisture wrote.
“We have determined that the prudent management decision is to slow the pace of the completion of the Hawker 200 certification program until indicators reflect a healthier light jet market,” he wrote.
At the same time, the company is increasing turboprop and jet aircraft production rates to meet demand in 2012, Boisture wrote.
“Despite the difficult light jet market, other segments are showing some stability,” he said.
Hawker Beechcraft is experiencing increased interest across several of its turboprop and jet production lines, spokeswoman Sarah Estes said in an e-mail. She declined to give more details on production rates or on specific products.
The Hawker 200, with its composite fuselage, is an upgraded version of the Premier II six-passenger light jet, announced in mid-2008. In 2009, the company slowed development of aircraft and moved the delivery date to late 2012 or early 2013 in hopes the market would improve by then.
In October 2010, Hawker Beechcraft announced the Hawker 200, a rebranded and upgraded Premier II.
Most of the design work is complete, the company said. It will take the opportunity to explore additional new technology that may be applicable to the Hawker 200. Flight testing has been suspended on the program.
The latest slowdown in the program comes at a natural pause point, Boisture wrote.
“Development testing is nearly complete, the transition to certification flight testing has begun, and we are well positioned to continue from this point when the time is right,” he wrote.