In the Works:Hawker Beechcraft Hawker 4000 on Horizon

 - January 23, 2007, 10:20 AM

One month after the Hawker 4000 won FAA certification on November 21, Raytheon announced that it agreed to sell Raytheon Aircraft to Onex Partners and GS Capital Partners for $3.3 billion (see story on page 1). The buyers plan to change the name of their new company to Hawker Beechcraft Corp., and the sale should be completed within six months of the announcement.

Two questions arise from this deal. The first is: what to call the new company? Hawker Beechcraft better encompasses the heritage of the company than the name Raytheon Aircraft. But is a King Air, for example, now going to be a Hawker Beechcraft King Air? The company name doesn’t lend itself to a shorthand moniker such as LockMart, which Lockheed Martin is not fond of. While calling a King Air a Beechcraft King Air makes sense, a Hawker jet already has Hawker in its name, so will it be labeled the Hawker Beechcraft Hawker 4000?

The other question: will the new company pursue new airplane programs in the near term? During a flight on the Hawker 4000 with AIN’s editor on board, Brad Hatt, president of commercial aircraft for Raytheon Aircraft, said, “We’re done with clean-sheet designs for a while; derivatives will follow.” So does this mean that Hawker Beechcraft (née Raytheon Aircraft) is not going to consider entering the very light jet market? Historically, Raytheon Aircraft has been willing to acquire programs such as the Mitsubishi Diamond, which became the Hawker 400XP, and the original Hawker line. Might Hawker Beechcraft add a nascent VLJ to its lineup?