The reason why the XPR program is worth noting is that reshaping the company from one that cranked out a lot of good stuff, to one that gives new life to the old good stuff is a trend. We are looking at the the bellwether of what the future of private jet stuff might look like. The world is full of great (low time) Learjet and Beechjet fuselages. There are many more under utilized airframes than there are buyers, and as prices fall, the smart seller needs to have a good reason to command more money from the sophisticated buyer.
Hawker Beechcraft and private jet followers wondered what would happen to the Beechjet XPR program in the context of the chapter 11 filing yesterday. According to this news, there will be no change or impact on the program from the filing. This proves to be an important sign as you digest how they steer the ship. Our simplistic and plain language distillation (and anecdotal, to be fair) analysis is this:
There’s lots of equipment out there.
Advances in avionics and engine technology are surging way ahead of what is going on the fuselage be it metallurgy or composite side. The evolution is by no means finished on the hardware (wings / fuselage) but the speed at which engines and avionics overtake their predecessors is relatively fast if you consider the past 30 years. If we count the birth of the Beechjet as 1978 (the first Mitsubishi jet) then you can see that we are making a 34 year old design “new again” with essentially winglets, engines and a panel updgrade. (We may be oversimplifying the evolution since 1978, but only for dramatic effect and the benefit of the lay person – who would actually see no change.)
As such, the smart play is to be the retrofit guy. The launch of Nextant likely proved to be the necessary Darwinian kick in the behind to Hawker Beechcraft to start the XPR program.