The business aviation industry, as well as the associated companies, grow when confidence is high and retract when it’s low. As the economy slogs along for the third year in a row, with matching weak confidence, the time is now for the business aircraft manufacturers to announce bold plans for new models at the 2011 NBAA Convention next week in Las Vegas.
Hawker Beechcraft (HBC) has opened a new regional headquarters office in Beijing to cover the North Asia region, including mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, Korea and Japan. According to the company it has also added local employees and strengthened its sales and marketing network in the region. The office will support all HBC operations, including maintenance.
The first six months of the year proved disheartening for those who hoped for an uptick in aircraft deliveries. According to first-half numbers provided by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), total industry billings were down 22.3 percent compared with the first half of last year, to $7.3 billion, from $9.4 billion, while total shipments were off 15.5 percent in that span.
The final feature of Hawker Beechcraft’s upgrade and enhancement program for the Hawker 4000 received FAA certification Tuesday–the “Load 20” package for the super-midsize jet’s Honeywell Primus Epic avionics suite. Load 20 is a significant modification–part of a major upgrade program that all Hawker 4000s are receiving at no charge to owners–and adds long-awaited functionality to the 4000’s cockpit.
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.
Six of ExecuJet Aviation Group’s MROs have been designated Hawker Beechcraft (HBC) authorized service centers. They include ExecuJet Aviation facilities in Lanseria and Cape Town, South Africa; Dubai, UAE; Melbourne and Sydney, Australia; and Lagos, Nigeria. A spokesman for ExecuJet, which has a total of eight maintenance facilities worldwide, said the other locations will be considered based on demand.
If the business aviation industry is experiencing a recovery, it is by most indications a stumbling affair, with new markets leading the way.
In early May, JPMorgan described business aviation’s progress toward a recovery as “uneven.” In its May Business Jet Monthly report, the firm took note of a “post-recession low” in the inventory of used jets for sale, but also an overall drop in used aircraft prices.
“Buy X and get a free Y” is probably one of the oldest marketing come-ons in sales. Here at EBACE 2011, OEM Hawker Beechcraft of Wichita, Kansas, is taking the concept to a new level. Any Europe/Middle East/Africa (EMEA) customer who buys a Hawker Beech turbine airplane between EBACE and the end of the second quarter of this year will receive a Lotus sports car.
NetJets, the Berkshire Hathaway-owned fractional-share operator, completed a purchase agreement early last month for up to 120 new Bombardier Globals, a deal worth $6.7 billion if all aircraft options are taken. Notably, this is NetJets’ first order for Bombardier business jets; previous large-cabin acquisitions by the fractional provider have been for Gulfstreams and Falcons.
Kaman and Lockheed Martin continue to expand the missions being flown by the unmanned K-Max helicopter at the Army’s Yuma, Ariz., Proving Ground. The helicopter recently made multiple guided airdrops at 10,000 feet msl. The 16 payloads airdropped included medical equipment, food, simulated leaflets and bulk cargo and were programmed by the GPS-guided Joint Precision Delivery System (JPADS) or triggered from a remote ground control station.