Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Something Xtra Special

Upgrading Legacy Bonanzas the factory way

The Case For Factory Upgrades
Back on the ground, Tim Glaser, Hawker Beechcraft Manager Sales Aftermarket Development, explained that the various STC options were chosen both for their utility and quality.

“We just didn’t just go out and find some nice STCs and put them on this plane and call it a package,” Glaser said. “We put a list of [STCs] together and took a team of engineers and went all through [the STC holder’s] paperwork. We picked these mods based on whether they met our quality expectations, and if they made sense from a business case perspective. There were some [vendors] we went to visit that we walked away from. So when we have these mods on the airplane, it’s Hawker Beechcraft saying these mods are up to our quality standards.”

Hawker Beechcraft plans to introduce more upgrade options for the Xtra as they become available, and hints that an anti-icing or de-icing system may be next on the menu.

All Xtra upgrade work is performed at Hawker Beechcraft-owned Authorized Service Centers. A total makeover with all the options would cost about $140,000, according to Turner. Depending on the amount of work performed, the upgrades require from 90 to 120 days.

The company has been in discussions with the Aircraft Bluebook and VREF, which publish market prices for used airplanes, in an effort to have these reference guides recognize the value of the Xtras’ factory installations in the used aircraft marketplace, as compared with upgrades performed by third-party installers. That could further sway owners to make the Xtra upgrade choice.

Hawker Beechcraft notes the a la carte options will be welcomed by owners who don’t want to or can’t afford to complete upgrade at once.

“It’s completely up to the individual operator what they want to do, and how far they want to take it,” Johnson said.

But the company believes the real value will go to those who want the full monty. “Drop your airplane off at Beechcraft once, we’ll take it apart and make it exactly how you want it, and you’re saving time and money doing it all at one time, instead of doing it multiple times,” said Glaser. “This is the first time we’ve gone to this level of support to keep these airplanes flying and keep them looking new for legacy customers. We’ve been watching the aftermarket companies taking a lot of our airplanes in and doing the kinds of things we should be doing.”

Those days of watching from the sidelines are over at Hawker Beechcraft, as the company continues to upgrade its own aftermarket offerings. Look for an announcement of an upgrade program for the twin-engine Beechcraft Baron at this year’s ABS convention in October.


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