As Raytheon Aircraft works to pull itself out of its financial hole, development of the Hawker Horizon continues with “absolutely no showstoppers,” according to Jim Schuster, chairman and CEO. However, its expected certification timeframe has quietly slipped from a broad 2003 estimate to “late 2003” (with first customer deliveries in early 2004), and Schuster intimated that the complexity of the super-midsize Horizon could cause it “to move further to the right.” When announcing the Horizon at the 1996 NBAA Convention, then company chairman and CEO Art Wegner estimated the airplane would be certified in spring 2001. Hard lessons learned in the drawn-out certification process of the Premier I are being applied to the Horizon program. In a nutshell, “We’re engaging the FAA earlier in the process,” Schuster said. The Premier I received FAA certification on March 23 last year, 28 months later than originally projected, the delay being a major factor in the company’s current financial difficulties.
Meanwhile, the Hawker 450 program is under the microscope at Raytheon. “Brand-new platform launches are doubly difficult,” said Schuster. “We have to answer the question, ‘Can we do it?’” He said he has told Horizon 450 partners and suppliers that a decision will be forthcoming in the third quarter of this year. “Frankly, right now, we don’t know where we’ll go with it.”