Beechcraft is upping its product development spending by 300% as the company studies potential for a new single-engine turboprop, derivative diesel variants of its Beechcraft Bonanza and Baron aircraft and upgrades and/or derivatives of its King Air and other models, says Shawn Vick, president of Beechcraft International Services Co.
The increases in research and development spending follow the February emergence of the company from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, which enabled Beechcraft to shed more than $2 billion in debt. It also comes as the company recently increased its deliveries overall by nearly 50% and King Air deliveries by 80%. At the same time, the company took in the highest number of bookings in three years.
Vick says the company was not yet ready to detail specifics on the new product development efforts, but he stresses that they will be focused on only turboprop and piston aircraft. He does say, however, that the company expects to bring new diesel variants of the Bonanza and Baron aircraft to market by the end of 2014.
The company in the fall indicated interest in exploring a new single-turboprop, and Vick says the company remains “highly interested” in that market. Research is continuing on such a product with more specifics anticipated over the next couple of years.
Beechcraft is not working on a new twin turboprop “for now,” Vick says, but would not rule out the possibility long-term. However, the company is looking at enhancements throughout its product line, including the King Air series.
Beechcraft, meanwhile, has been encouraged by the stronger market for the King Airs, particularly in Europe, where sales grew by nearly 50% from 2008 to 2012, compared with the previous five years. France and Germany are the largest markets for the King Air, at 78 each, with the U.K. following, at 74 aircraft.