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Thu, Nov 20, 2008

Hawker Beechcraft CEO Jim Schuster To Retire

Oversaw Company Through Transition To New Ownership

Eight years will apparently be enough for Hawker Beechcraft Corporation (HBC) Chairman and CEO Jim Schuster, who on Thursday announced his intent to retire from the company once a successor is found.

"Earlier this month, I began discussing my retirement plans with our board. After nearly eight years as CEO, I feel the time is right," Schuster said. "HBC is the world’s largest privately held aircraft manufacturer and with the support of world-class partners Goldman Sachs and Onex, Hawker Beechcraft is poised to become the leader in general aviation."

Schuster's tenure at the helm of the planemaker began in May 2001, when he was named Executive Vice President of Raytheon Company and Chief Executive Officer of Raytheon Aircraft Company. In that time, Schuster oversaw the planemaker's growth in the industry... including the certification of 19 new aircraft, most of them variations on previous Hawker and Beechcraft models.

He continued in the leadership role following Raytheon's sale of its aircraft division to GS Capital Partners in March 2007, after which time the company became known as Hawker Beechcraft. Schuster will lead HBC until the company identifies a successor and will remain a shareholder after he leaves the company.

"I will continue to lead the company during its search for a new CEO -- until then, I am fully committed to achieving our fourth quarter financial objectives, finalizing our 2009 business plan and delivering on our 2009 commitments," Schuster said. "We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but I believe that we have the most talented team in the industry to accomplish our goals and grow our business."

"We thank Jim for his dedicated service and contribution. He is a true leader that has positioned Hawker Beechcraft atop general aviation," said Sanjeev Mehra, chairman of the board of Hawker Beechcraft, Inc. "Under his leadership, Hawker Beechcraft not only became the world’s largest independent aircraft manufacturer, but also solidified its future in general aviation with an exciting product line and world class services."

If there is a blemish on Schuster's legacy at Hawker Beechcraft, it would be extremely protracted development and certification process for the Hawker 4000. Raytheon first announced its all-composite business aircraft project in 1996 as the Hawker Horizon... but it took nine years before the aircraft made its public debut as the Hawker 4000 at NBAA 2005, and it was not cleared for customer deliveries until June 2008.

According to the most recent numbers available, the company has since delivered three Hawker 4000s through the third quarter of 2008.

FMI: www.hawkerbeechcraft.com

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