Al Marsh

Quick roundup on Hawker, Eclipse, Sikorsky

May 12, 2012 by Alton K. Marsh, Senior Editor, AOPA Pilot

UPDATED May 14

Hawker Beechcraft issued layoff notices to another 150 people yesterday, in addition to the 350 laid off three weeks ago. The Wichita Eagle reports that leaves levels in Wichita at 4,200. If it lays off a few hundred more the company will have to return tens of millions in financial aid gained from state and local governments.

Second issue: Is there confusion at United Technologies about the role that United Technologies is playing in the restart of Eclipse production? United Technologies Chief Financial Officer Greg Hays triggered the controversy during a phone call to financial analysts in April. United Technologies is the parent company of Sikorsky and Sikorsky owns aircraft manufacturer PZL Mielic in Poland.

Here’s Hays’ quote in answer to a question from stock analyst Howard Rubel of Jefferies & Company, who wanted to know why United Technologies is selling Rocketdyne but investing in Eclipse:

“Can I make it very clear we’re not going to invest any more money in Eclipse? We did make a small investment–less than $25 million–in Eclipse, really to service the aftermarket of the aircraft. I think there’s about 300 of those airplanes that have been delivered [incorrect--the actual number is 265]. But you know, we are not in the light jet business if you will. We’re in the aftermarket business supporting the planes that are out there, but we’re not in the manufacturing business for light jets. So, again, if we haven’t made that clear before…” He then asked Rubel if that was clear, and Rubel said, “Crystal.”

Very confusing, because Eclipse officials just signed a contract to build the jet with PZL Mielic that Sikorsky bought in March of 2007. So no, United Technologies does not build business jets, but Sikorsky’s subsidiary does. PZL makes the M-28 Skytruck in the King Air class of aircraft, but more importantly makes the S-70i Blackhawk. That’s the model that proves to the world that PZL is a first-class manufacturing facility, since nearly everyone in the world has heard of it. The United Technologies/Sikorsky/Eclipse will be well built.

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