Cessna Aircraft owner Textron will buy Beechcraft for $1.4 billion in a major consolidation of U.S. general aviation manufacturers, multiple news outlets reported Dec. 20.
Textron also owns Bell Helicopter, and CEO Scott Donnelly has long expressed interest in acquiring Beechcraft.
Beechcraft builds King Air turboprops as well as piston Bonanzas and Barons at its Wichita, Kan., manufacturing center. Beechcraft was forced to seek bankruptcy court protection in May 2012 on a downturn in jet sales. It emerged nine months later and announced it intended to sell its jet business.
The company also announced its biggest ever King Air contract, a deal valued at $1.4 billion to produce and maintain 105 aircraft for Wheels Up, a new aircraft membership firm.
Beechcraft officials said they hope to conclude a sale of its jet assets separately.
Putting Beechcraft and Cessna under a single corporate structure creates a firm with a product line that stretches from single-engine piston aircraft through turboprops and jets. Cessna, also based in Wichita, is a corporate jet powerhouse and also builds single-engine piston 172, 182, 206, and TTx aircraf