In all the jabbering that followed Hawker Beechcraft's remarkable announcement that it planned to sell itself to a Chinese mogul, one revelation resonated especially: If the deal does not proceed, the company will shut down jet production. And thus did the desperate manufacturer acknowledge as its essence—and key to survival—the King Air and, possibly, the A/T-6. (Sorry, but upping production of Bonanzas and Barons won't stanch the bleeding.) And what gives those aircraft life is the ...

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