Reborn Beechcraft Makes EBACE Debut

EBACE Convention News » 2013
beech king air 350
Special missions is a market Beechcraft sees as providing a bright future for the company’s King Air line, in particular the King Air 350ER.
May 20, 2013, 2:15 AM

Hawker Beechcraft emerged from bankruptcy in February, restructured and rebranded as Beechcraft (Booth 7060), and the message it brings to EBACE is that it has refocused on the business of building and selling airplanes, and servicing and supporting what it builds.

Beechcraft has two “significant” elements to its show presence here. The stand in the main hall, said executive v-p of sales and marketing Shawn Vick, “is branded universally as Beechcraft and we are represented there by members of our African, European and Middle East teams.”

And while the booth very clearly signals the changes integral to the new Beechcraft, he said, visitors to the static display line will see the entire aircraft line in the new livery, from the King Air 350ER special mission demonstrator twin turboprop in its air ambulance layout right down to the latest model of the Bonanza G36 light single.

Beechcraft no longer builds jets, but the company’s Global Customer Support division is well represented on the static display by a Hawker 400XPR business jet. The 400XPR and Hawker 800XPR are two examples of factory-designed, -engineered and -supported programs in which Beechcraft offers owners the opportunity to upgrade the engine, avionics, aerodynamics and overall performance. Global Customer Support also exists to back up the fleet of some 2,200 Hawker business jets still in service worldwide–Hawker 400, 800 and 900 series twinjets. It also backs the Hawker 4000, Premier I and Premier IA, though it does not back up the warrantees and SupportPlus programs for those aircraft.

The total fleet of Hawker Beechcraft airplanes still in service, including jets, totals about 36,000 airplanes worldwide, providing a steady and welcome revenue stream from 10 Beechcraft-owned service centers in Mexico, the UK and the U.S., as well as from some 90 authorized service centers scattered around the globe.

Special-Mission Market

On the sales side, Vick said Beechcraft is spending a goodly portion of time at EBACE focused on the commercial aircraft market and the special-mission market for the company’s existing turboprop models.

“It is our intent, more than anything else, to see if the European market will be in a position of growth this year over last year. Everyone is familiar with the economic challenges facing Europe, and while the commercial market has been slow to recover, we’ve seen excellent activity in the special-missions market,” he said.

Beechcraft believes a large part of the potential commercial market in Europe consists of high- and ultra-high-net-worth individuals who own businesses or have the personal wealth to justify purchasing an efficient twin-engine turboprop.

Vick said Beechcraft had been carefully evaluating the market, including using third-party blind surveys. “We will be investing in the coming year to ensure that what we propose is what the market wants and will pay for.”

Looking forward, Beechcraft is in the early planning of “several product development initiatives,” Vick said. These first appeared at the NBAA convention last fall Vick noted the possibility of developing three new aircraft. They include a new twin turboprop occupying a market niche between the King Air 250 and King Air 90, as well as a single-engine turboprop King Air variant using the Premier IA twinjet frame. Also being considered is a new light single positioned between the Bonanza and the Baron.

“But new jets are off the table for the time being,” said Beechcraft CEO Bill Boisture. At the same time, he recognized that, “there are some very strong [business jet] markets in which we hold some very strong positions [and] we will invest in them and protect them from competition for the future of our company.”

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