BRIEF HISTORY OF BEECHCRAFT
Since 2014, Beechcraft has been a Textron Aviation brand. It was originally a brand of Beech Aircraft Corporation, a US manufacturer of commercial aircraft, general aviation, and military aircraft ranging from small, single-engine, piston aircraft through twin-engine turboprops, business jets, and even military trainers. Beech then became a branch of Raytheon and then Hawker Beechcraft before being acquired by Textron (parent company of Beech’s old cross-town Wichita competitor, Cessna Aircraft Company) in a bankruptcy sale. It is still a Textron Aviation brand.
FOUNDED IN 1932
The Beech Aircraft Company was founded in 1932 in Wichita, Kansas, by Walter Beech. The company began operations at a decommissioned Cessna plant. They collaborated with designer Ted Wells to create the company’s first aircraft, the famous Beechcraft Model 17 Staggerwing. Its first flight was in November 1932, and over 750 Staggerwings were produced, including 270 for the US Army Air Forces during WWII.In 1942, Beechcraft received its first Army-Navy “E” Award for production efficiency and became one of the country’s elite 5% of government contracting firms to win five consecutive awards for production efficiency, primarily for the Beechcraft Model 18, which is still in widespread use today. Beechcraft was placed 69th most valuable US Corporations of World War II military contracts.Following the war, the groundbreaking Beechcraft Bonanza with its characteristic V-tail was replaced by the Staggerwing. The single-engined Bonanza, perhaps Beech’s most well-known aircraft, has been manufactured in various forms since 1947. The Bonanza holds the world’s longest continuous production run of any aircraft, past or current. Other notable Beechcraft aircraft include the King Air and Super King Air twin-engined turboprops, which have been in production since 1964, the Baron, a twin-engined variant of the Bonanza, and the Beechcraft Model 18, which was originally designed as a commuter airliner in the late 1930s and 1960s. Some are even still in service today used for cargo transport.
FIRST FEMALE CEO AT BEECH
November 29th, 1950, Olive Ann Beech was appointed president and CEO of the corporation following her husband’s sudden death from a heart attack. She remained CEO until February 8, 1980, when Beech was acquired by Raytheon Company. Herbert Rawdon succeeded Ted Wells as Chief Engineer, a position he held until his retirement in the early 1960s. Throughout much of the mid-to-late twentieth century, Beechcraft, along with Cessna and Piper Aircraft, was regarded as the “Big Three” in the field of general aviation manufacturing.
RAYTHEON PURCHASES BEECHCRAFT AND HAWKER LINES – 1994
Raytheon merged Beechcraft and Hawker product lines bought from British Aerospace in 1993 to become Raytheon Aircraft Company in 1994. In 2002, the Beechcraft trademark was reintroduced to identify the aircraft manufactured in Wichita. Hawker Beechcraft was formed when Raytheon sold Raytheon Aircraft to Goldman Sachs in 2006. Hawker Beechcraft’s bankruptcy filing on May 3, 2012 resulted in its reemergence as Beechcraft Corporation on February 16, 2013, with the Hawker Beechcraft moniker being retired. The new, much smaller firm manufactures the King Air series of aircraft, as well as the T-6 and AT-6 military trainer/attack aircraft, as well as the piston-powered single-engine Bonanza and twin-engined Baron. Although the jet line has been phased out, the new business continues to service existing aircraft with parts, plus engineering and airworthiness documentation. By October 2013, the company had recovered financially and was for sale.
TEXTRON PURCHASES BEECHCRAFT FOR $1.4 BILLION
On December 26, 2013, Textron agreed to acquire Beechcraft for $1.4 billion, including the retired Hawker jet line. The sale was approved by the government in the first half of 2014. Textron CEO Scott Donnelly claimed that Beechcraft and Cessna would merge to form Textron Aviation, resulting in yearly savings of US$65 million to $85 million over maintaining the firm’s separation. Yet Textron has maintained separate branding for Beechcraft and Cessna.
TEXTRON ON THE RISE WITH CESSNA
With the purchase of Beechcraft in 2014, Donnelly expanded its presence in the aviation sector, launching Textron Aviation, a new business area that encompasses three significant brands: Beechcraft, Cessna, and Hawker. Textron Aviation offers to the market more than 200 years of combined aviation knowledge and a pre-existing global customer base of more than 250,000 airplanes by combining these three renowned brands.Throughout the decade, Textron Aviation set out to create and introduce a variety of innovative new products while also improving its customer support services. It symbolized the company’s steady growth plan as well as their employees’ ingenuity, creativity, and devotion. Textron Aviation celebrated the certification and first delivery of the Cessna Citation Latitude in 2015, a new midsize aircraft that took just four years from idea to delivery. The Latitude went on to become the best-selling aircraft in its class in the world. At the same time, Textron Aviation was working on its newest plane, the Cessna Citation Longitude, a super-midsize jet that was certified and delivered to customers in 2019.