Beechcraft Eyeing New Turboprop Single

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Beechcraft Corporation is hoping to build a new big turboprop single as it emerges from bankruptcy, abandons jet production and focuses on the turboprop and military side of its current operations, following the collapse of a takeover bid by China-owned Superior Air Parts. In a wide-ranging news conference at NBAA 2012 in Orlando on Monday, Beech officials announced that the company will continue to support almost 30,000 jets in the field and continue with retrofit programs to modernize them. He also said the company is entertaining offers from a variety of potential suitors, some of which would resume production of some jet models and others that would just assume the support function. The focus on new product development will be on prop-driven aircraft, including the as-yet unnamed turbine single. In a podcast interview, Beech VP Shawn Vick said the turboprop will use the Premier fuselage that will allow executive club seating for eight or a high-density configuration for up to 11 passengers. There are also plans for an unpressurized utility version that can operate from unimproved fields. Vick said the piston line will be retained but there could be some kerosene in its future.

Vick said the company is working with Pratt and Whitney Canada on potential turbine retrofits for piston aircraft. Beech is also exploring diesel piston options as the market expands to areas where aviation gasoline is unavailable. He said the new company will encompass the military side of the business that was hived off to accommodate the deal with China and that Beech is working hard to win the Air Force contract for a Light Air Support aircraft with its AT6B.