Hawker Beech Survival Plans Revealed

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Hawker Beechcraft plans to hang on to its piston and turboprop business but will shed at least some of its turbine production under three reorganization scenarios presented to bankruptcy court last month. The Wichita Eagle reported that a common thread of the reorganization plans is the demise of the Premier jet and the Hawker 200, which is under development. One plan eliminates jet production entirely, another retains the Hawker Beechcraft 900 and flagship 4000 while the third sacrifices the 4000 and keeps only the 900.

Of course, if another company buys Hawker Beechcraft, a possibility we reported last week, the bankruptcy navel-gazing is moot. But if Hawker Beech emerges as an independent company, the document gives a vision of what it might look like. Of the three options, the most financially attractive is eliminating jet production and concentrating on the highly successful King Air line and further development of the AT-6 light air support aircraft. That one also closes the most plants and eliminates the most jobs. Even under the scenario that keeps the 4000, its continuation is contingent on a reduction of 20 percent of its material costs, something the company admits is not likely. The 900 appears to be management's pick as the most viable jet option but even it has some future problems looming. By 2016 new aircraft from Cessna and Embraer will be direct competitors and Hawker Beech would have to invest heavily to modernize the 900 to meet that competition.