Citing the “fragile global economic situation,” Hawker Beechcraft has decided to slow development of the Hawker 200 light business jet, known originally as the Beechcraft Premier II, until market conditions rebound.
“As you are aware, our industry is facing one of the most challenging markets in its history,” noted Hawker Beechcraft chairman and CEO Bill Boisture in a letter to employees. “The light jet segment has been particularly hard hit. Most manufacturers have made difficult decisions and are hopeful for a timely recovery. Unfortunately, economists and third-party industry analysts agree the timing of that recovery remains uncertain.”
Boisture said in the letter that the company is at a “natural pause point” in the Hawker 200’s certification program, with development testing nearly complete and certification testing just getting under way. “We are well positioned to continue from this point when the time is right,” he wrote. Boisture gave no indication, however, of when that time might come.
The economic downturn has hit Hawker Beechcraft particularly hard. The company has laid off nearly 800 workers in 2011 alone as it seeks to reduce overhead expenses. More bad news came last week when the U.S. Air Force chose the Embraer Super Tucano to meet its Light Air Support (LAS) requirement over Hawker Beechcraft’s AT-6.
Still, the company says it is seeing early signs of a market turnaround on the business aircraft side of its business. “Despite the difficult light jet market,” Boisture wrote, “other segments are showing some stability. As a result of those indicators, we are increasing our turboprop and jet aircraft production rates to meet market demand in 2012.”