April 17, 2012
By Jim Moore
Hawker Beechcraft survived the recent outbreak of tornadoes with minimal damage to its Wichita, Kan. factories—about the only good news the company has produced in recent months. The General Aviation Manufacturers Association released revised aircraft shipment figures for 2011 days after the storms, showing a 7.5-percent overall decline in general aviation aircraft shipments for 2011, compared to the company’s 2010 totals. The shipment report followed a weekend of severe storms across the Midwest and Plains states, and fresh speculation the aircraft maker is headed for bankruptcy—fueled by a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that details a net loss of $632.8 million, more than twice the 2010 net loss of $304.9 million. The report also calls into question the company’s prospects for survival. CEO Robert “Steve” Miller, a corporate turnaround specialist hired to lead a recovery, said the filing “reflects the combined effect of the prolonged weakness in our market that has continued to affect our business and the heavy debt burden the company has operated under since 2007.”
Miller, in an April 13 statement, said the company continues to work with lenders to restructure debt, and announcements are expected soon. “In the coming weeks, we expect to decide on a path forward for Hawker Beechcraft that will include a plan that will put the company on firm financial footing and better position Hawker Beechcraft for the future,” Miller wrote. “As we move forward with this process, we remain steadfast in our commitment to building, selling and servicing the best airplanes for our civilian and military customers.”
GAMA data shows an overall decline from 214 general aviation aircraft deliveries in 2010 to 198 from Hawker Beechcraft in 2011. The industry group previously reported a 3.5 percent overall decline in 2011 deliveries, excluding in February the fourth-quarter 2011 numbers that Hawker Beechcraft had not yet provided. Industry officials said there are signs of a sustained recovery brewing.
Hawker Beechcraft’s piston deliveries increased slightly, with the losses recorded in the business jet lines.
AOPA Online Associate Editor Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot who enjoys competition aerobatics.
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