Interview with Sean McGeough, President for Hawker Beechcraft Europe, Middle East and Asia

By Paul Joseph

With the world increasingly becoming a global village, the need for communication across borders and continents is ever-growing. For the elite end of the corporate world, private aviation is essential to the way people conduct business, and in recent years there has been a proliferation of private jet companies striving to capture this segment of the market.

Hawker Beechcraft Corporation, a leading manufacturer of business aircraft, has chosen London’s prestigious Mayfair district for the location of its first customer gallery. Situated in the iconic Claridge’s Hotel, the site has been designed to serve the needs of both Hawker Beechcraft’s London-based clients and those from overseas.

The gallery will be staffed by a team of seasoned professionals who will provide guidance on the full Hawker Beeccraft product line-up, including turnkey solutions to aircraft ownership and support. talked exclusively with Sean McGeough, President for Hawker Beechcraft Europe, Middle East and Asia, about the new London venue, the conditions of the private aviation market, and the company’s future goals.

Can you give us a brief background to the business?
Hawker Beechcraft is a world-leading manufacturer of business, special-mission and trainer aircraft – designing, building, marketing and supporting aviation products and services for businesses, governments and individuals worldwide. Worldwide, HBC employs more than 6,000 individuals and delivered 318 business and general aviation aircraft in 2010. As testament to HBC’s longevity, since the foundation of Beech Aircraft Corporation in 1932, over 54,000 aircraft have been built and 36,000 of these are still flying today.

What are the main benefits of having a dedicated customer gallery?
The dedicated customer gallery in Claridge’s Hotel is the direct result of HBC’s on-going efforts to find new and creative ways to connect with its customers. Not only is Claridge’s Hotel a perfect fit due to the international make-up of its guests, but its similar heritage to that of HBC made it the natural choice for HBC’s flagship London location.

Last year HBC carried out in-depth discussions with more than 3,000 owners and operators worldwide and established a customer advisory board consisting of 50 owners from 30 countries. The new London gallery is one result from these discussions regarding how to best serve the needs of existing and prospective clients. Furthermore, Claridge’s is seeing an increasing number of guests from the EMEA [Europe, Middle East and Asia] region, which mirrors the growth in sales that HBC is seeing in this area.

Can you tell us about the Hawker 4000? What makes this jet so special?
As the flagship of the Hawker line, the Hawker 4000 sets the standard for quality, performance and value in the super-midsize business jet class. It is the most advanced super-midsize jet in the world, with high-efficiency engines and the industry-first composite fuselage complementing its enhanced range and speed performance. The Hawker 4000’s top speed of 555 mph makes it faster than its closest competitors, while it has a range of more than 3,000 nautical miles.

Inside, the Hawker 4000’s generously-sized cabin offers a stylish comfortable setting for both meetings and relaxing. With six feet of headroom, there is stand-up, stretch-out room for 8-10 passengers. Furthermore, the entire interior can be handcrafted to a customer’s own style by Hawker Beechcraft’s exclusive team of craftsmen and designers with an unparalleled selection of finishes and details.

What is your strategy for reaching the world's emerging markets? 
We are currently seeing huge potential for growth in both Africa and the Middle East, where a new generation of global businesses is emerging. These businesses are looking to conduct international business and in order to do this, they need fast and reliable access to major cities across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

In response to the growing demand that has accompanied this recent boom, HBC has invested heavily in greater inventory for our global supplies network , ensuring that no matter what model of Hawker Beechcraft aircraft our customers fly, or where they fly it, there will a service centre nearby to support them. Meanwhile, partnerships with Arabasco in the Middle East and ExecuJet in South Africa have broadened our offering in two key markets.

How have the demands of private jet clients changed over the years?
Business travellers today not only have greater international commitments but have less time to conduct them in, meaning that our customers are increasingly looking for the fastest, most efficient method of travelling. Indeed, since 2005 the number of business flights within the EU has increased by 10.5%, highlighting the growing demand for business air travel. This trend looks set to continue as companies look to profit from the business opportunities presented overseas.

What are Hawker Beechcraft’s long term ambitions?
HBC is continually looking to evolve its offering to stay at the forefront of the global aviation market. Although the past couple of years have seen a tough time for the industry, the coming years are an exciting time for business aviation, and Hawker Beechcraft will continue to strive to match the ambitions and requirements of each of its clients.


By Paul Joseph