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A Hawker Beechcraft very light jet? Not yet
A Hawker Beechcraft very light jet? Not yet

Hawker Beechcraft isn´t interested in designing its own very light jet to add to its product line.

But "if a VLJ comes available... I could see a VLJ complementing our lineup," Hawker Beechcraft chief executive Jim Schuster said Tuesday in a conference call with analysts to discuss the company´s fourth-quarter financial results.

The Wichita planemaker, however, isn´t interested in acquiring the design of bankrupt Adam Aircraft´s A700 very light jet.

"Based on what we know right now, it´s probably not a good fit," Schuster said.

Company officials talked with analysts Tuesday about a variety of issues, including the U.S. economy and the general aviation market, the Hawker 4000 and military trainer programs.

Earlier this month, Hawker Beechcraft -- which was formed last March -- reported operating income of $ 148.3 million on sales of $ 2.8 billion for the last nine months of 2007. The company delivered 351 general-aviation aircraft during that span.

Asked when the company might issue an initial public offering, Schuster said it would depend on a number of things. One is the market´s view of the potential cycle for general aviation, he said.

In the meantime, the company has assembled a largely new leadership team and is focused on "driving results," such as getting the Hawker 4000 into the market and improving operations.

"We´ll know it when we see it," he said of the right timing for an IPO. "Right now, we´re just not spending any time thinking about it."

Despite signs of a slowing U.S. economy, Schuster said neither he nor other general aviation planemakers have seen an impact on their industry.

The company has a record backlog and continues to see strong international demand for its products, said Hawker Beechcraft chief financial officer Jim Sanders.

It´s difficult to judge what the next downturn in the aviation market will look like, Schuster said. The industry could be going through an extended period without a down cycle, he said. A flattening is possible, he said, or a mild downturn.

The company is nearing federal certification and first deliveries of its long-awaited Hawker 4000 business jet. There are 23 Hawker 4000s in various stages of completion.

The Hawker 4000 is undergoing function and reliability testing to gain certification. The company is "closing out paperwork and completing the last few steps necessary to deliver" (the airplane), Schuster said.

Last week, Hawker Beechcraft resumed deliveries of T-6 trainers to the U.S. Air Force and Navy. Shipments were suspended in July because of issues relating to the aircraft´s wing spars.


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