NBAA Convention News

Hawker Beech on mission to prevail despite headwind

 - October 19, 2009, 5:16 PM

When asked about the Hawker 450 at the Hawker Beechcraft Corp. (HBC) press conference yesterday, chairman and CEO Bill Boisture said, “We are going to introduce another version of that fine, light jet.” He declined to reveal any additional information. He also said there will be a follow-up Hawker 400 timed “to meet the economic updraft, and that’s all I’m going to say about it.”

In a military-style briefing, Boisture painted a somber picture of the current state of the aviation industry, but assured that “we are on a mission” and will “prevail against unprecedented travail and market forces.”

New HBC executive v-p Shawn Vick said that the company does not expect the industry to rebound until “late 2012 or early 2013,” a somewhat later time frame than predicted by some others.

But as Boisture explained, “We don’t know any better than anyone else exactly when the elements of recovery will be lined up and present. We do know that it looks like–from the financial markets and the lending side of the financial markets–that if there is credit available for purchase of our assets, it requires considerably more equity than it did before.” He said buying an aircraft now requires a lot of security, from the lending entities’ point of view. “So when we look at the things that have to happen, if we are talking about new aircraft sales when we expect significant improvement, we expect that there has to be absorption of used aircraft overhang that is here,” he said.

Many of the airplanes that were sold in 2007 and 2008, he said, came back on the market relatively recently. These nearly new, low-time airplanes in a used-jet inventory that is about twice as large as it was last year compete directly against new orders.

“We think 2010 is going to be a very difficult year and we’re taking the appropriate business decisions to prepare our company for that and have already in many cases,” Boisture acknowledged. “And the things that we do in 2010 will make us a much more efficient company; we already have done some of that in 2009.”

“So the precise moment of the recovery or the period of the recovery is not nearly as important as being ready for it, and we’ll be ready for it,” he said. “We’re not trying to make it last longer, we’re just being realistic about what we want to do with our business.”

Among the HBC announcements, the company said that it and FlightSafety International plan to launch a full schedule of technical training courses at FlightSafety’s new 44,000-sq-ft maintenance training center on November 9 this year. The curriculum represents the latest collaboration between the two companies.

“The MxPro curriculum draws extensively from Hawker Beechcraft’s intimate knowledge of our aircraft and systems,” said Christi Tannahill, v-p of Hawker Beechcraft Global Customer Service and Support. “It provides technicians with expert instruction that will enhance their ability to troubleshoot and repair aircraft quickly and immerses them in a training environment that will give them opportunities just like those they will experience on the job.”