King Air 350ER In Singapore Debut
Hawker Beechcraft is exhibiting its King Air 350ER special-mission demonstrator in the Singapore Airshow static display, the first time the type has appeared in the Asia Pacific region. The twin-engine turboprop is outfitted with high-density seating, medevac stretchers, a belly-mounted search radome and electro-optic/infrared (EO/IR) sensors.
Dan Keady, the company’s vice president of sales for Asia Pacific and India, reported that the 350ER had been proving increasingly popular locally, particularly in China. He said, “We are selling most aircraft in China, and have had a strong 12 months there,” he told AIN. “The majority of Beechcraft products going there are for special-mission applications.”
The company is also exhibiting its flagship Hawker 4000, which can fly to most of the region nonstop out of Singapore, and Keady said it is also selling well in India and China. The third aircraft on the tarmac is the Hawker 900XP, which is used by several charter companies in Asia, including Beijing-based DeerJet.
“I used to work in the Middle East and am seeing the same trends evolving in the market in Asia. After the first wave of aircraft into the region, people are starting to move from the ultra-long range large cabin jets to midsize types,” Keady said.
However, challenges to regional growth remain, such as a lack of maintenance support and infrastructure. Hawker Beechcraft is working on that, and now has three maintenance centers in the Asia Pacific region–in Shanghai, Singapore and Beijing–housing some $3 million of spares in total. The OEM also recently signed an agreement with sales and product support organization Hawker Pacific, which will help ramp up its support base. Other factors affect market growth, too. “Our biggest limitation is the [low] number of operators with aircraft operating certificates,” said Keady.
The OEM comes to Singapore with a new CEO. On February 7, Robert S. “Steve” Miller replaced Bill Boisture, who will now chair the Hawker Beechcraft Group. “This is a shot in the arm for us,” asserted Keady. “Miller’s appointment is a vote of confidence as we’ve hired someone who is used to running large companies. It is a good thing for us.”