Beechcraft Reveals Plans for New Turboprop, Piston Models

Still stinging from the collapse of its buyout deal with Superior Aviation Beijing, Hawker Beechcraft used the stage at the NBAA Convention to focus on the future — and in particular the company's plans to introduce four new turboprop and piston models in the next five years while also exiting the business jet market. Plans revealed at NBAA also call for a transition to diesel power across Beechcraft's piston line.

The first new product from a stand-alone Beechcraft could be an 8- to 11-seat Pratt & Whitney-powered single-engine turboprop that would use the composite fuselage of the Premier I light business jet. Other products would be positioned to fill in gaps between the Bonanza, Baron and King Air family, giving the company a complete range of light general aviation products topping out with the King Air 350.

Hawker Beechcraft Chairman Bill Boisture confirmed that the company has ceased all business jet production and has asked the judge in its bankruptcy proceedings for permission to continue with the divestiture of the bizjet line, either through the sale of the portfolio or by simply shutting it down.

“We’re very sorry to have disappointed customers in this way,” Boisture said at press conference on Monday on the eve of the NBAA Convention in Orlando, Florida.

Plans call for a newly restructured company to reemerge under the Beechcraft name sometime next year. The bankruptcy will allow Beechcraft to walk away from more than $2.5 billion in debt. Boisture also confirmed that the company will no longer honor Hawker 4000 and Premier warranties, a policy that will affect about 150 customers, he said.

As for the piston lineup, Beechcraft plans to transition to “alternative fuels” for the Bonanza, Baron and new piston models. At one point during the press conference, Boisture referred specifically to diesel technology that would be capable of burning jet-A.


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