Beechcraft

Company History & Fun Facts

Beech Aircraft Company was founded in Wichita, Kansas, in 1932 by Walter Beech and his wife Olive Ann Beech. The company began operations in an idle Cessna factory. With designer Ted Wells, they developed the first aircraft under the Beechcraft name, the classic Model 17 Staggerwing, which first flew in November 1932. Over 750 Staggerwings were built, with 270 manufactured for the United States Army Air Forces during World War II.

In 1942 Beech won its first Army-Navy "E" Award production award and became one of the elite five percent of war contracting firms in the country to win five straight awards for production efficiency, mostly for the production of the Beechcraft Model 18 which remains in widespread use worldwide. Beechcraft ranked 69th among United States corporations in the value of World War II military production contracts.

After the war, the Staggerwing was replaced by the revolutionary Beechcraft Bonanza with a distinctive V-tail. Perhaps the best known Beech aircraft, the single-engined Bonanza has been manufactured in various models since 1947. The Bonanza has had the longest production run of any airplane, past or present, in the world. Other important Beech aircraft are the King Air/Super King Air line of twin-engined turboprops, in production since 1964, the Baron, a twin-engined variant of the Bonanza, and the Beechcraft Model 18, originally a business transport and commuter airliner from the late 1930s through the 1960s, which remains in active service as a cargo transport.

In 1950, Olive Ann Beech was installed as president and CEO of the company, after the sudden death of her husband from a heart attack on 29 November of that year. She continued as CEO until Beech was purchased by Raytheon Company on 8 February 1980. Ted Wells had been replaced as Chief Engineer by Herbert Rawdon, who remained at the post until his retirement in theearly 1960s.

In 1994, Raytheon merged Beechcraft with the Hawker product line it had acquired in 1993 from British Aerospace, forming Raytheon Aircraft Company. In 2002, the Beechcraft brand was revived to again designate the Wichita-produced aircraft. In 2006, Raytheon sold Raytheon Aircraft to Hawker Beechcraft. Since its inception Beechcraft has resided in Wichita, Kansas, also the home of chief competitor Cessna, the birthplace of Learjet and of Stearman, whose trainers were used in large numbers during WW2.

The entry into bankruptcy of Hawker Beechcraft on May 3, 2012 ended with its emergence on February 16, 2013 as a new entity, Beechcraft Corporation, with the Hawker Beechcraft name being retired. The new and much smaller company will produce the King Air line of aircraft as well as the T-6 and AT-6 military trainer/attack aircraft, the piston-powered single-engined Bonanza and twin-engined Baron aircraft. The jet line was discontinued, but the new company would continue to support the aircraft already produced with parts, plus engineering and airworthiness documentation.

beechcraft history

On December 26, 2013, Textron agreed to purchase Beechcraft, including the discontinued Hawker jet line, for $1.4 billion. The sale, was expected to be concluded in the first half of 2014, pending government approval. Textron CEO Scott Donnelly indicated that Beechcraft and Cessna would be combined to form a new light aircraft manufacturing concern that will result in US$65M-$85M in annual savings over keeping the companies separate. Textron's initial plan is to keep both Beechcraft and Cessna as separate brands.

Beechcraft delivered 204 business, military and general aviation aircraft in 2012. Over 54,000 aircraft have been built since 1932 with more than 36,000 flying today.

Courtesy of Wikipedia