All posts tagged 'Hawker Beechcraft'

General Aviation - Billings up in 2011 but delivers still slow to the punch

Written by Molly McMillin
The Wichita Eagle

A resurgence expected last year in the general aviation market didn’t happen, but an increase is expected for 2012.

“Unfortunately, you will see that a resurgence did not take place for the industry as a whole,” General Aviation Manufacturers Association chairwoman Caroline Daniels said Wednesday, speaking of 2011. “However, 2011 did furnish signs of a sustained recovery and some reason for optimism.”

The 2011 decline in general aviation aircraft delivered was in the single digits at 3.5 percent. That’s after three years of double-digit declines since record deliveries in 2007. Billings, however, were up slightly last year “This is an indication that the trough in the industry cycle has been established,” Daniels said during a webcast from Washington, D.C. Some manufacturers showed flat or improved performance last year over 2010.

Deliveries by Wichita’s general aviation manufacturers rose last year. Wichita planemakers delivered 45 percent of all general aviation aircraft last year. GAMA released year-end general aviation shipment and billing numbers Wednesday during a state-of-the-industry event in Washington. Shipments for 2011 totaled 1,865 planes, down 3.5 percent from 1,932 planes the year before. Billings totaled $19.1 billion, up from $19.0 billion in 2010. “We don’t think we can go anywhere but up,” said Pete Bunce, GAMA president and CEO. “But how great the slope is depends on economic conditions.”

Those conditions include uncertainty in the European and global economy, he said. The good news, however, is that a majority of the market fundamentals for the industry are moving in the right direction. Unemployment levels are declining, corporate profits are up, flight activity has improved and emerging markets are driving new sales, GAMA officials said.

Despite a return to strong corporate profits, “it seems though, that companies remain in a wait and see mode,” Daniels said. Eventually, the healthy profits will turn into business from pent-up demand, she said. The number of used aircraft for sale has declined slightly, but is still at historically high figures. The amount of used aircraft inventory affects the sale of new planes.

The impact of the economic recession has been felt most acutely in the lighter end of the business jet market, while larger jets have turned in a steady performance. Buyers of large jets rely less on third-party financing and emerging markets have favored the large-jet category, Daniels said.

Wichita general aviation deliveries, 2007-11

  2011* 2010 2009 2008 2007
Bombardier Learjet 43 28 46 74 80
Cessna 689 534 740 1,300 1,274
Hawker Beechcraft 113 214 273 435 430**
Total Wichita 845 776 1,059 1,809 1,784
Worldwide shipments 1,865 1,932 2,276 3,969 4,272
Worldwide billings $19.1B $19.0B $19.5B $24.8B $21.9B

*2011 figures do not include Hawker Beechcraft’s fourth-quarter deliveries or billings. All figures do not include shipments for military use. **Hawker Beechcraft 2007 figures include shipments from Hawker Beechcraft and its predecessor, Raytheon Aircraft. When 2010 fourth quarter Hawker Beechcraft numbers are eliminated, total 2011 billings were 0.4 percent higher than a year ago. GAMA will adjust figures after Hawker Beechcraft’s earnings results.

Hawker Beechcraft

For months, Bill Boisture, chairman of Hawker Beechcraft Corp., has described the market as “bumping along the bottom.” Last year, Boisture predicted that demand in 2011 would be much like 2010, and 2012 would be much like 2011. “I have to say, sadly we were right,” Boisture said this week about demand last year. “We’ve felt like and thought for many reasons that ’12 would be a lot like ’11. And I can’t see much reason yet why that would be different.”

He hears the discussion that the economy is improving. “I hope for the sake of the American people that that’s true,” Boisture said. “But I would say that I don’t think that has really filtered through into a significant change in the aircraft market in our sector.” People are beginning to be a little more optimistic – or maybe they’re more accepting that today’s economy is now the new normal and they have to grow their business, he said. And if buying an airplane is needed to grow it, they have to figure out how to do that in today’s circumstances, Boisture said. The company has figured out how to be better at aggressively selling airplanes in today’s market, he said. “Our team continues to improve and continues to have a tighter focus,” Boisture said. “I think we’re getting better at it.” The availability of financing remains a big issue, however, especially in the light jet through piston aircraft market segments, he said. “The amount of equity that a buyer has to come with to get aircraft financing for a new airplane is significantly higher,” Boisture said. Financing is less of an issue with higher-priced airplanes and almost nonexistent in the large jet category, he said, because most buyers don’t need financing. GAMA’s Daniels agrees. “Third-party financing has been difficult to secure since the downturn,” Daniels said. That has led buyers to cancel aircraft purchases. “Once financing flows more freely, the aircraft market will improve,” she said.

Cessna Aircraft

At Cessna Aircraft, the amount of interest and activity at the beginning of the year increased from the same time a year ago, Brad Thress, Cessna senior vice president of business jets, said recently. “It’s a great way to start the year because the last two (years) have started so slowly,” Thress said. The industry is no longer in a time of monstrous order backlogs, however. Instead, companies must sell airplanes this year to make production expectations. Cessna has aggressively increased its sales force to find customers. “We are in the hunt for every deal,” said company spokesman Dianne White.

Cessna is continuing to invest significantly in new products, Thress said. Last year, it introduced the Citation M2 and the Latitude. “But there’s more coming that we’ll be announcing in the coming years,” he said. “It’s good business long-term to invest a lot in new products so as we do emerge from the downturn, we’ll have a fresh (products) in an invigorated market.”

Working with the FAA

One of the biggest issues facing manufacturers, said GAMA’s Bunce, is the need to streamline the certification process.

The volume of certification activities from planemakers is on the rise, and there is pressure to keep up, said Walter Desrosier, GAMA vice president of engineering and maintenance. “We’re working with the FAA to move to a more systems-safety oversight,” Desrosier said. The way it does certification today is by reviewing and approving every drawing and every test. “They’re involved in the minute details of routine day-to-day activities that are the same,” he said. “It’s the same widget being designed for one airplane to the next airplane to the next airplane.” There’s interest and support for the FAA to focus on a systems safety oversight that would leverage limited resources to focus on “safety critical” areas, new technologies and new manufacturing methods, Desrosier said. To do that means the FAA would oversee a company’s program that has FAA-approved processes and procedures. “The FAA would oversee how they’re doing that and the FAA would be able to accept that,” Desrosier said.

Language in the FAA reauthorization bill signed by President Obama includes a commitment for the industry and the FAA to work together on ways to be more efficient, Bunce said. “We’re very encouraged,” Bunce said. “It has to get done. There is a gigantic bottleneck there. The amount of work is accelerating while budgets are diminishing.” Another issue is a transition from today’s aviation fuel to unleaded fuel for piston-powered airplanes. That’s “absolutely vital,” Bunce said. And last year, bonus depreciation allowed buyers of business aircraft to depreciate their planes 100 percent. That helped spur sales. Whether that will be extended is unclear, Bunce said.

Hawker 400XP will not be in production for next 2 years

Hawker 400XP business aircraft

 Hawker Beechcraft announced Friday that it will stop producing its Hawker 400XP small business jet for the next two years.

Company officials told reporters in a conference call last week that the decision comes as Hawker adjusts to a 23 percent sales drop from a year ago within a challenging market for aircraft manufacturers.

“We made a decision that we think puts the future of that product out beyond the current economic problem and when we can see market recovery,” said Bill Boisture, CEO of Hawker Beechcraft, according to a report on the web site of Kansas TV station KSN.

The decision also comes at a time when the company has reduced its workforce and considered a move from Wichita, Kansas to Louisiana.

An overview of the Hawker 200 light jet

Hawker Beechcraft

This week we are looking back on other aircraft developments during the 2010 NBAA Annual Meeting & Convention not previously discussed on the GlobalAir Blog.

Another aircraft from the week of NBAA 2010 came from Hawker Beechcraft aside from the King Air 250. (Scroll below or click here for more on that airplane.) Executives also rolled out the Hawker 200, a light jet modeled from the Premier II program.

A statement from Hawker Beechcraft says this newest addition to the Hawker jet family will fly high and fast without affecting cost and comfort. The company’s specs max it out at 450 knots and 43,000 feet while maintaining a lower operating cost than the other competitors in the small-jet race.

The single-pilot Hawker 200 combines new winglets, Williams International FJ44-3AP engines and a higher gross weight and ceiling to deliver on the company’s promises. Other highlights include MultiScan Weather Radar, ADS-B Out capability and 10-year composite airframe warranty. A mockup interior made the trip to NBAA 2010, where company officials sought feedback to fine-tune its layout.

After tallying up the changes, there was no question that this business jet had graduated into a new class and deserved nothing less than being called a Hawker, a brand synonymous with constant innovation, high performance, proven reliability and unmatched cabin comfort,” said Shawn Vick, executive vice president of Hawker Beechcraft, prior to the voyage to Atlanta, Ga.

First deliveries for the Hawker 200 are slated for late 2012.

Beechcraft King Air 250 to feature Hartzell 4-blade ASC-II composite prop

From Hawker Beechcraft

During the 2010 NBAA Annual Meeting & Convention last month, we came across too many updated aircraft with too few days to discuss them on here. This week we will look back on some of the developments announced during the business aviation event that were not discussed here last month.

Today we look at the Beechcraft King Air 250, unveiled on the day before the convention officially kicked off. Aviation International News reported last week that the King Air 250 will be the first turboprop aircraft to feature the composite Hartzell 4-blade ASC-II.

Hartzell says the propeller, also unveiled at the convention, reduces aircraft weight without taking away from strength or durability.

The 93-inch diameter blade is being considered for other aircraft, AIN reports, though Hartzell has yet to announce any of these formally. The blade also will fit late-model King Air 200s.

[more]The King Air 250, according to a statement from Hawker Beechcraft, also includes BLR Aerospace winglets and engine induction modifications to boost performance. It is modified from a King Air B200 GT.

The company says the aircraft will outperform all other King Air B200s on takeoff by 400 feet or more. (Sea level takeoff over a 50-foot obstacle at max gross weight is 2,111 feet, according to the statement.)

“The shorter runway capability found in the King Air 250 provides our customers access to more than 1,100 airports that were previously unavailable to them, allowing them to spend less travel time door-to-door by flying closer to their final destinations,” said Shawn Vick, an executive vice president with the company.

The King Air 250 should see its first deliveries during the second quarter of 2011, the company said.

A terrible trio of bad news: Layoffs at Cessna, Beechcraft and Piper

A superstition commonly shared says that bad news comes in groups of three. Today, in the realms of business and general aviation, one has to wonder if that folklore also applies to layoffs.

Piper Aircraft announced yesterday that it would furlough 60 workers at its Florida facility. That consists of 6 percent of the company’s workforce, according to a local news report. Piper officials cited a lapse in aircraft orders as key in shrinking its labor pool.

The move comes right after similar announcements of 700 layoffs at Cessna and 350 layoffs at Hawker Beechcraft.

Hawker Beechcraft officials said, although orders are flat, they do not foresee large-scale reductions among hourly employees.

Cessna said its cuts manifested because orders for business jets have yet to meet projections. The company has cut the number of jobs on its payroll in Wichita nearly in half during the past two years of economic downturn, according to local news reports there.

Surely not all news is bad news. Read past the jump to find possible silver linings to this cloud. [more]

Despite the trimming, the current round of cuts will leave Piper with 830 employees, up more than one third from 580 employees a year ago.

In addition, the announcement came on the same day that the NBAA and other aviation groups applauded the passage of a small business law that, in part, allows credits on aircraft purchases and upgrades.

If bad news can come in threes, then perhaps good fortunes could bring a trifecta of positivity around the next bend.

What has business been like for your company this year compared to 2009? Are things better? Worse? Or slow but the same? Share your perspective in the comments below.

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