The Hawker 200 is the latest victim of the prolonged economic downturn in the business jet industry. On Friday, Chairman and CEO Bill Boisture informed employees that the firm has decided “to slow the pace of completion of the Hawker 200 certification program” until the economy improves and the light-jet market segment improves. The announcement follows communiqués to vendors last month telling them to cease deliveries of parts for the Hawker 200.
“It is important to note that we are at a natural pause point in the program. Development testing is nearly complete, the transition to certification flight testing has begun, and we are well positioned to continue from this point when the time is right,” Boisture tells employees.
He adds that the aircraft is “important to the future of our company” and that Hawker Beechcraft will use the pause “to verify the value proposition of the aircraft in light of additional new technology that may be applicable.”
Notably, Boisture says that he intends to increase turboprop and other light-jet production in 2012. “Despite the difficult light-jet market, other segments are showing stability,” he says.
The company maintains that the decision to put the program on hold is not expected to result in layoffs. “We will continue to match the size of our company, both up and down, to the dynamics for all the markets we serve—commercial, aftermarket, special mission and government. No reductions are planned at this time,” says a company spokeswoman.
Originally launched in 2008 as the Premier II, the six-passenger, composite aircraft was rebranded a year ago as the Hawker 200. Hawker Beechcraft originally had hoped to begin delivery of the aircraft in late 2010, but in 2009 the company slowed development of the program and pushed first deliveries into late 2012 or early 2013, citing the slow economy.
The announcement regarding the Hawker 200 is the latest in a series of bad news from the manufacturer. Late last month, the company said it lodged a protest with the U.S.over the U.S. Air Force’s decision to exclude the company from the Light Air Support competition. The manufacturer, which had posted a series of losses over the past couple of years, also last month issued notices for another round of layoffs.