October 31, 2012
By Thomas B Haines
While Hawker jet owners may end up the losers, owners of Beechcraft products may be winners as Hawker Beechcraft emerges from bankruptcy in early 2013. Company officials at NBAA2012 announced this week a series of new propeller-driven products and the potential for reengined Barons and Bonanzas with diesel- or jet-fuel powerplants.
Shawn Vick, executive vice president for customers, said the company has been working on a five-year plan of product developments that include four new products. He showed a slide of a single-engine turboprop that is basically a Hawker Premier jet composite fuselage stretched to carry eight to 11 passengers at 300 knots in and out of rough fields. It also will have a large cargo door. With winglets and a T-tail, it looks like a larger, faster Pilatus PC-12.
Vick also said that all of its product line would be ready for “alternative fuels,” including the piston-powered Baron and Bonanza. He later re-iterated that the airplanes would be jet- or diesel-fueled in order to take advantage of availability of those fuels worldwide. Best news for those owning such legacy airplanes, Vick said whatever engine technology is used will be retrofittable to the existing fleet. Retrofits, he said, are a very lucrative business.
While not providing any engine details, he said the company has a long-standing relationship with Pratt & Whitney.
Vick provided few details of the other products, but one appeared to be slotted between the Bonanza and Baron. Two more were interspersed among the King Air lines, with some being offered in unpressurized versions as utility airplane.
In all, Vick suggested that over the next decade the company could grow from its current six products to as many as 10 and could be producing 600 airplanes a year.
AOPA Editor in Chief Tom Haines joined AOPA in 1988. He owns and flies a Beechcraft A36 Bonanza. Since soloing at 16 and earning a private pilot certificate at 17, he has flown more than 100 models of general aviation airplanes.
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