Hawker Beechcraft union opposes sale to China's Superior Aviation

The proposed sale of the business jet and general aviation operations of bankrupt aircraft maker Hawker Beechcraft to China's Superior Aviation Beijing Co Ltd is being opposed by the company's union over over transfer of sensitive technology and pension issues.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Union (machinists union) is trying to block the sale on the grounds that critical dual-use technologies will pass into the hands of a Chinese state government-backed company and the deal would burden the American taxpayers with the Kansas-based Hawker Beechcraft's under-funded pension obligations.

But Kansas state Republican representative Mike Pompeo, and two Republican senators, Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran, have not responded favourably to taking up the union's cause in Washington.

Matthew McKinnon, the union's legislative and political director, said that until Senators from the home state do not step up efforts to block the deal, it will be difficult to challenge the sale to the Chinese.

After thousands of job cuts and defaulting on its interest payments, Hawker Beechcraft filed for bankruptcy in May. As of September 2011 the company had $2.14 billion of debt.

In early July, Hawker Beechcraft reached a $1.79-billion deal to sell its business jet and general aviation operations to Superior Aviation – a company that is 60-per cent owned by Superior Aviation, a closely-held private entity owned by  Chinese industrialist Shenzong Cheng and his wife, Qin Wang. Beijing E-Town International Investment & Development Corporation Ltd., a company controlled by the Beijing municipal government, owns the r5emaining 40 per cent.