Premier I improvements, deliveries to skyrocket

 - May 5, 2008, 5:38 AM

As Raytheon Aircraft ramps up significantly the delivery rate of the Premier I–the company aims to ship 40 units this year, more than twice as many aircraft in the second half than the 13 in the first half–it has disclosed several major improvements scheduled for incorporation on new aircraft over the next year and to be available for retrofit on all airplanes previously delivered (31 to date).

The Wichita manufacturer is aiming to complete RVSM group certification for the Premier I by mid-December. Previously delivered aircraft will require the pitot tube to be relocated slightly aft of its present position to meet RVSM altitude tolerance requirements (±200 ft) and Raytheon will supply operators with a no-charge kit. Initially, several European-based Premier Is will be single-aircraft RVSM certified, with ones in Germany being the first.

Raytheon is expected to have completed early this month a mod that decreases unusable fuel by nearly 70 lb to obtain about 30 nm more range. Mod kits, which involve relocating the fuel pick-up, improving fuel probe installation and altering the structure for fuel flow, will be available for retrofit installation at no cost at RAC service centers.

At the time of initial airworthiness type certification, the Premier I had busted its 3,000-ft takeoff field length guarantee by nearly 800 ft. To help restore some of that distance, Raytheon is working with the FAA to re-calibrate 1-g stalls to obtain a reduction in reference speeds that should snip 100 to 300 ft from the takeoff distance. Approval is targeted for late this year or early next.

Starting with new aircraft deliveries early next year, Premier Is will have additional soundproofing to reduce cabin sound levels by five decibels, or to about 80 dBA, a level Raytheon says is equal to or better than that of similar small jets. Noise reduction will be achieved by incorporating hydraulic pulse dampeners, increasing the gap between the engine and mounting pylon skin, tuned mass absorbers on the engine mounts, new engine fan shroud and various interior treatments–all adding just 30 lb to the airplane’s empty weight. Retrofit kits will be offered at no charge.

Of the 31 Premier Is delivered at press time, 11 went to non-U.S. operators. With that U.S. to non-U.S. ratio expected to continue, Raytheon is on a fast track to obtain foreigncertifications. Raytheon has chosen to forego JAR approval.

To date, the Premier I is certified in the Netherlands, Italy, Ireland and France. Raytheon officials said it “hasn’t been asked to make a lot of changes” to the Premier I for those foreign approvals. Certification in Turkey, Spain, Germany, Venezuela, Japan, Argentina, the UK and China is planned for next year. In all, Raytheon plans to have the Premier I certified in 22 countries by 2005.

Working Down the Backlog
This month Raytheon will start an Asia/Pacific tour of the Premier I, culminating at the China Air Show in Zhuahai from November 3 to 7. Meanwhile, the company is pushing hard to work down a backlog of Premier I orders that extends into 2007. In addition to the 40 deliveries planned this year, Raytheon plans to ratchet deliveries up to 60 a year–the level that the company was hoping to start with this year when it announced certification of the Premier I in March last year.

By far, most of the buyers of the FAR Part 23 Premier I are owner-pilots and, unless prevented by regulation or insurance, they fly the airplane single pilot. However, until a pilot achieves proficiency (no less than 1,500 hr TT for single-pilot type-rating training), two-pilot crews are required. So far, Raytheon said FSI has type rated more than 100 pilots on the Premier I