While Boisture’s assessment appears accurate, there are also signs that Hawker Beechcraft remains stuck, not between a rock and a hard place, but between a hard place and a harder place. And while some of Wichita-based OEM’s problems have their source in the current recession, others are more than a decade in the making, well before Boisture began his tenure at HBC in 2009.
Hawker Beechcraft, which has been excluded by the U.S. Air Force from competing for a contract to supply a new light attack aircraft, is fighting mad and fighting back.
The Chester, UK facility of Hawker Beechcraft Global Customer Support has begun maintaining the Beechcraft Premier. The facility, which recently received the necessary EASA repair station ratings, has a long history of Hawker support and also recently received approval to service the Beech King Air 200 and 300 series. A spokesman for the company told AIN the Chester facility is an FAA-certified repair station.
Nearly three years ago exactly, in October 2008, I was sitting in the back of a Citation CJ1+ headed to the NBAA convention in Orlando, Fla. Lehman Brothers had collapsed two weeks earlier and there was a sentiment of caution and confusion surrounding the financial markets. NBAA 2008 ran from October 4 to 10.
Asked recently how Hawker Beechcraft is doing, company chairman and CEO Bill Boisture’s answer of, “We’re doing all right,” was abbreviated at best. The long answer is more enlightening. “The progress we’re making in transformation of the company through Project Challenge is very significant,” Boisture said, answering more at length.
Hawker Beechcraft has increased the Premier I/IA inspection time from a 200-hour core interval to a 600-hour interval. The extended inspection period applies to all new and in-service Premier I/IAs. The new schedule requires an “A” inspection every 600 hours and an “A and B” inspection every 1,200 hours. The company has reformatted Chapter 12 for the aircraft to align with the change and removed all previous inspection guides.
In its first-half earnings conference call this morning, Hawker Beechcraft announced its $487 million in new orders exceeded its cancellations of $80 million, marking the airframer’s ninth consecutive quarter of gain. However, the Wichita manufacturer noted its revenues in the business and general aviation segment decreased by 17.4 percent in the second quarter over the same period in the previous year.
The FAA has issued the type certificate for the Hawker Beechcraft King Air 250. Key features of the latest iteration of the King Air product line include BLR Aerospace composite winglets, Hartzell ASC-II composite four-blade propellers and Raisbeck Engineering ram-air recovery system. The new propellers, equipped with lightweight aluminum hubs, shave 65 pounds off the King Air 250’s empty weight.
“Cautious optimism” for the current business aviation market likely describes the consensus of opinion of the business aviation industry here at EBACE. It is, at least, the view of Bill Boisture, chairman and CEO, Hawker Beechcraft Corp., who told AIN that his plans for transforming the Wichita, Kansas OEM into “a smaller, more agile company” are progressing.