Bankruptcy judge considers Pilatus’ claim against Hawker Beechcraft

In a hearing Tuesday, a U.S. bankruptcy judge considered Swiss planemaker Pilatus Aircraft’s claim that Hawker Beechcraft owes it more than $1 million in royalties for use of intellectual property in the production of T-6 military trainers, which uses a Pilatus design for its airframe.

Pilatus alleges that the amount owed has grown since May 3 when Hawker Beechcraft filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Since the bankruptcy filing, Pilatus alleges that Hawker Beechcraft has continued to build and deliver T-6 trainers without paying royalties and without submitting to the company a required quarterly accounting of trainer sales.

Royalty payments stopped on the eve of Hawker Beechcraft’s filing for bankruptcy protection, Pilatus claims in a court filing.

The judge in New York didn’t rule on the claim, and another hearing on the matter is set for Aug. 30, Hawker Beechcraft said.

Hawker Beechcraft disagreed with Pilatus’ claims in a filing last week, saying that payments in exchange for intellectual property to Pilatus are “fully paid-up” because of the settlement of a number of disputes between the two companies.

In addition, the company claims Pilatus has not shown that Hawker Beechcraft is currently using any of Pilatus’ intellectual property or that Pilatus is providing a benefit to the company.

Pilatus responded in a document filed with the court on Monday, calling the company’s allegations “wild, unsupported suppositions.”

Hawker Beechcraft builds T-6 trainers for the U.S. Air Force and Navy under a Joint Primary Aircraft Training System, which is based on the Pilatus PC-9 turboprop. It also sells the plane to other international customers.

It also used the T-6 platform in an AT-6 attack version, which Hawker Beechcraft used in a bid on the Air Force’s light air support program.

Without the Pilatus PC-9, the company would have had no aircraft sufficient to bid on the government’s contract business, which is a substantial portion of the company’s revenue stream, Pilatus alleges.

The company is producing T-6 planes today under revisions to the original type certificate of a Beech-Pilatus trainer, Pilatus claims.