AIN Special Report: New Business Aircraft

 - May 7, 2008, 6:27 AM

Last year’s dot-com nosedive has taken its toll on the startup companies planning to build new business aircraft and seeking ever more elusive investor funding. Notably, Century Aerospace in June indefinitely shelved its plans to build the entry-level six-place, twin-turbofan Century Jet. And Sino Swearingen laid off 100 contract employees earlier this year to conserve cash, only to bring them back after securing enough funding to bring its SJ30-2 to certification and production. Other startups, including Eclipse, have found it hard (though not impossible) to find investment funding, causing them to stretch their development timelines. However, most of the established aircraft manufacturers have held their courses steady, and all but the Raytheon Hawker Horizon program are pretty much on schedule.

Despite the economy, business aircraft manufacturers delivered a record number of business jets in the first half of this year (although billings are slipping). New entrants coming into the market in the next few years should help keep the tide high, if not at record levels. Meanwhile, those startup companies that can ride out the current rough economic seas should be able to reap the fruits of their labors in just a few short years.

In this special report, AIN presents an overview of the latest business aircraft to emerge from computer screens to an airport near you, from those certified in the past year to those in flight testing and those still in development. New this year to the report is the addition of re-engining programs, which include the FJ44 Citation Eagle II and Spirit Wing Learjet 25D.

ADVANCED AERODYNAMICS AND STRUCTURES INC. (AASI)
Jetcruzer 500
–The Jetcruzer 500 is essentially a pressurized version of AASI’s Jetcruzer 450, which was certified in June 1994. The company has been struggling for several years with financing and certification issues in trying to get its six-place Jetcruzer 500 single-turboprop pusher certified and into production. Earlier this year AASI backed out of a deal that would have placed about 70 percent of its stock with Tiwenz Group, a Chinese-based multimedia company. Tiwenz’s Monterey, Calif. office telephones have since been disconnected and its stock ticker symbol is no longer listed on the over-the-counter bulletin board (OTCBB).

In March the Nasdaq delisted AASI’s stock after it had failed to meet the exchange’s liberal listing requirements, which include a stock price higher than $1. AASI is now listed on the OTCBB. Certification of the Jetcruzer 500 has been nearly a continuous moving target for the last few years, as delays caused by design problems and funding shortfalls have accumulated. Most recent estimates by the company extend possible certification and first deliveries to the middle of next year.

AASI in late July announced that it had received five shipsets of landing gear parts for the Jetcruzer 500. The landing gear components are in various quality checking and assembly stages. According to the company, one set of landing gear is expected to be ready soon for FAA certification drop tests at AASI’s Long Beach, Calif. facility. The other four are being prepared for installation on flight-test and customer aircraft, according to the company.

AEROSTAR AIRCRAFT
FJ-100
–Aerostar Aircraft of Hayden Lake, Idaho, is still determined to put Williams International FJ33-1 turbofans on the Aerostar 600 piston twin to create the FJ-100 entry-level business jet, but has yet to raise the initial $8.4 million of the $40 million needed to fund the program. However, v-p Jim Christy is confident that adequate funding will be found by mid-October, and talks are currently in progress with several interested investors.

He said his company is working on the FJ-100 with its own funding until an outside investor commits to the aircraft project.

According to Christy, the FJ-100 will be a new manufactured airplane that relies heavily on Ted Smith’s Aerostar 600 design. (However, the flight-test FJ-100 will be a modified Aerostar 600 to reduce development costs.) The twinjet is essentially a stretched version (a fuselage plug will be placed fore of the wing) with a cruciform tail and aft-mounted turbofans. While it will share the same basic wing shape as its piston-twin predecessor, the inside wing structure will be modified to meet current certification standards and the wing skins will be slightly thicker.

Christy said the FJ-100 will have an integrated avionics system, and he mentioned that Aerostar has good relationships with both Honeywell and Meggitt. The twinjet will also have wing de-icing boots for flight into known icing conditions.

First flight of the $1.95 million FJ-100 has slipped from late this year to February 2003, with certification and deliveries in February 2004, provided that the company finds funding by the end of next month.

ARCHEDYNE AEROSPACE
NauticAir 450
–The legal proceedings between Archedyne Aerospace, developer of the NauticAir 450 amphibious twinjet, and Armand Rivard, president of Lake Aircraft, and investment banker George Wight have reached the deposition stage. In September last year Archedyne filed a complaint in the Brevard County, Fla. circuit court against Lake Aircraft and Wight, seeking the return of a $500,000 purchase deposit it claims it paid Lake in June 1999. According to Archedyne’s director of business development Dennis Bonneau, “Our business plan was tied to the acquisition of Lake Aircraft, which we had hoped would give our company both a history and name recognition, instead of being just another startup.” But the purchase deal fell through last summer. The attorney for Lake Aircraft told AIN that his client “believes the complaint is without merit.” Bonneau said that Archedyne is reevaluating whether it still wants to buy Lake or simply recoup its funds and move on. Meanwhile, development of the NauticAir 450 remains in a holding pattern.

BELL/AGUSTA AEROSPACE
BA609
–The problems plaguing the MV-22 military tiltrotor obviously haven’t affected the development of the Bell/Agusta BA609. While its larger cousin in the Marines is grounded, the civil tiltotor is progressing toward its first flight before year-end.

The first BA609 had its engines installed in July, and engine runups are expected to start before the end of next month. The second prototype is nearing completion, after which it will be used for proof-load testing of the cockpit and prop-rotor structure. A total of four tiltrotors will be used for certification, one being a static and fatigue test article.

According to Bell/Agusta, the BA609 will require a two-year certification program, reflecting the aircraft’s complexity and the agency’s foray into the “powered lift” category. Two production plants–one at Bell’s Texas location and the other at Agusta’s facility in Italy–will begin churning out BA609s en masse in late 2003.

Seating nine passengers, the 16,800-lb-mtow tiltrotor has a 5,500-lb useful load and enough power to perform Category A helicopter operations at its mtow. Max range (no fuel reserves) of the BA609 is 750 nm, with a design cruise speed (airplane mode) of 275 kt. Its 25,000-ft ceiling requires the tiltrotor to be pressurized, a feature that makes the BA609 (and MV-22) unique among rotorcraft.

The order backlog for the tiltrotor currently stands at more than 80 aircraft, according to Bell. The current price of the BA609 has not yet been set, but the first 80 or so have been sold at an introductory price of $8- to $10 million apiece.

BOEING BUSINESS JETS
BBJ2
–If you think the BBJ is just too small, then the BBJ2, with its 25-percent longer (19.1 ft to be exact) cabin, might just fit the bill. Boeing’s latest corporate aircraft offering is based on the next-generation Boeing 737-800, but is equipped with auxiliary fuel tanks.

However, Boeing’s newest bizliner isn’t quite as long-legged as its smaller sister ship–its maximum IFR range is 5,750 nm vs the BBJ’s 6,200 nm. But the BBJ excels in its capability to carry up to 78 passengers, compared with the BBJ’s maximum of 63 people.

An STC for after-production installation of the winglets on the first three BBJ2s manufactured came in June, three months later than originally expected. Starting with BBJ2 number four, which rolled out in June, all BBJ2s will fly away from the Boeing factory with production winglets already installed, under the 737-800’s certification. PATS of Georgetown, Del., expected to receive the STC for the BBJ2’s auxiliary fuel tanks by this month.

The price of a green BBJ2 is a cool $43 million and the completion cost will add another $12 million or so. Boeing Business Jets declined to say how many BBJ2s have been sold to date, but it will release this information at this month’s NBAA show in New Orleans.

BOMBARDIER AEROSPACE
Continental
–Bombardier’s new super-midsize business jet was rolled out on June 25, and on August 14 the Continental made a two-hour maiden flight, testing the design’s basic maneuverability and avionics, propulsion, hydraulics and fuel systems. The Continental, which was announced at the 1998 NBAA show, will fill the product gap between the manufacturer’s Learjet 60 and Challenger 604.

According to the company, the program is on schedule and on budget for simultaneous FAA/JAA certification in the third quarter of next year. However, certification of the 8,050-lb-thrust (derated to 6,501 lb) Honeywell AS907 turbofans that power the super-midsize jet has been delayed from this year until September next year to incorporate design improvements. Bombardier claims that this will not affect its certification schedule. One copy of the business jet is slated to appear on the static line at this month’s NBAA Convention.

The Continental’s flight-test program will involve five airframes–S/N 20001 for aerodynamics testing; the second for systems; the third for avionics; and the fourth and fifth to share the 400 hr of function and reliability testing. Deliveries of the approximately $14.7 million aircraft will commence immediately following certification. Bombardier said it has orders for more than 115 Continentals (25 of which are slated for its Flexjet fractional-ownership arm).

CESSNA AIRCRAFT
Sovereign
–First flight of Cessna’s super-midsize Citation Sovereign is still officially projected for a vague “first quarter of next year” timeframe. Certification and first customer deliveries are scheduled, respectively, for late 2003 and early 2004.

Cessna introduced the Sovereign at the 1998 NBAA Convention in Las Vegas, estimating at that time that certification would take place in the second quarter of 2002 and first deliveries in the third. The program was officially launched in January last year. The airplane’s cabin is the same diameter as the Model 650 Citations, but the Sovereign has a new supercritical wing. Preliminary specifications and performance include mtow, 29,250 lb; basic operating weight, 16,700 lb; zero-fuel weight, 19,600 lb; max fuel capacity, 10,800 lb; Mmo, 0.78M, high-speed cruise, 454 kt; NBAA IFR range (two crew and eight passengers), 2,686 nm; and ceiling, 47,000 ft. Cessna reports firm orders for more than 78 Sovereigns at a typically equipped and completed price of $13.3 million (2001 $).

In June last year Cessna said the Sovereign’s design had been frozen and that the cockpit design team had begun working with user groups to define the final panel layout. Changes to the original design included a wider cabin door, single-pivot thrust reversers, the deletion of the left-side over-the-wing exit, removal of the dorsal fin on the tail and elimination of the dihedral on the horizontal stabilizer.

Using its Boeing 720 flying test bed, Pratt & Whitney Canada conducted flight testing of the PW306C turbofan engine for the Sovereign earlier this year. The Sovereign’s cockpit design has been finalized, including the symbology and display formats for the Honeywell Primus Epic CDS avionics. A plug-type cabin door that incorporates a roller/cam latching mechanism to satisfy new certification requirements has met the preliminary approval of both the FAA and JAA.

Already built are five shipsets of most parts for the two fatigue articles, the prototype and the first two production aircraft (P1 and P2). Assembly of the first and second fatigue articles and the flying prototype has begun. Testing of the first fatigue-test article was expected to begin this summer and be completed in time for the fourth-quarter 2003 certification goal.

CHICHESTER-MILES CONSULTANTS
Leopard Six
–Chichester-Miles Consultants of England announced in mid-March that it will develop a 25-percent larger business jet dubbed the Leopard Six. Drawing on flight test data from the redesigned number-two Leopard prototype, now called the Leopard Four, the Leopard Six will be powered by two Williams FJ33-1 turbofan engines rated at 1,500-lb thrust each and be designed for a long-range cruise speed of 436 kt, a ceiling of 51,000 ft and an IFR range with full payload of 1,740 nm.
The $2.35 million six-seater is expected to have a mtow of 6,800 lb, max fuel weight of 2,200 lb and max payload of 1,200 lb. CMC chairman Ian Chichester-Miles said the total program cost is estimated at $100 million. He plans to “outsource everything” to keep costs as low as possible, and the CMC chairman is in talks with potential investors.

DASSAULT FALCON JET
Falcon 2000EX
–At the NBAA show last year Dassault said it will add another business jet to its lineup with the $24 million Falcon 2000EX in the second quarter of 2003. The newest Falcon 2000 will have almost 900 nm more range than its predecessor, which will remain in production until at least 2004.

Dassault’s new iteration will be powered by two 7,000-lb-thrust Pratt & Whitney Canada PW308C engines, and the business jet will have a 3,815-lb increase in the airplane’s fuel capacity through the addition of fuselage tanks in front of and aft of the wings. A new Honeywell avionics suite called EASy is planned for the airplane, but it won’t start appearing in the 2000EX until after the first 20 to 30 have been shipped.

First flight of the $25 million airplane is expected in December, with certification in the third quarter of 2003. Dassault on July 19 held a rollout ceremony for the first Falcon 2000EX at the company’s Merignac plant near France’s west coast. Sales of the new model have been fairly brisk, with two fractional providers–NetJets and United BizJets–each placing double-digit orders for the twinjets.

Falcon FNX–Dassault Aviation used the Paris Air Show as a platform to introduce a three-engine Falcon that will have a new, more efficient wing, a max range of 5,700 nm (20 percent farther than the Falcon 900EX) and a cabin eight feet longer than that of the 900EX. First flight of the $37 million business jet, code-named Falcon FNX, is expected in 2004.

According to Olivier Villa, vice president of Falcon programs, the FNX wing is “an optimized high-transonic design with a double-digit improvement in lift-to-drag ratio over present-day Falcon wings.” He said the goal is to optimize the wing’s shape to simplify its structure, reduce weight and construction cost and maximize internal fuel volume, and at the same time maintain the “safe and pilot-friendly flying qualities” found on other Falcons. The new wing will have a higher aspect ratio and a more pronounced sweep, allowing more efficient high-speed cruise performance. Using technologies already being applied to current Falcon horizontal stabilizers, the wing will have a simplified structure composed primarily of metallic alloys but also of composites.

The FNX will feature fly-by-wire flight controls and side-stick yokes, the first such application for a purposely built business jet. Dassault, which has used fly-by-wire for years in its fighter jets, said that the technology will “add performance and safety” as well as improve the flying qualities of the new business jet.

While no choice has yet been made for engines, Honeywell’s AS905–a geared-fan powerplant–and Pratt & Whitney Canada’s PW306 are being considered. Whatever the choice, the total thrust will exceed 18,000 lb and TBO will be more than 7,000 hr out of the box, Dassault said. The engines will push the FNX to an Mmo of 0.90 Mach and a Vmo of 370 kt. “This means FNX operators will be able to conduct most day-to-day flights at 0.85 Mach and above,” according to the French manufacturer.

In the cockpit, the FNX will have four 14.1-in. (diagonal) displays providing “everything from flight planning and automated checklists to presenting the aircraft’s precise position, situation and environment,” according to Dassault. A newly designed cabin pressurization system will maintain 6,000 ft at the FNX’s 51,000-ft ceiling. First flight of the trijet is scheduled for 2004.

ECLIPSE AVIATION
Eclipse 500
–Eclipse Aviation of Albuquerque, N.M., has pushed back by six months the certification timetable for its Eclipse 500, a six-place entry-level twinjet with a projected selling price of $837,500. Company CEO Vern Raburn said the schedule slippage was a response to the current financial environment, in which investors have become wary of speculative ventures. As a result of projected cash shortfalls at Eclipse, first flight of the business jet has been delayed one month to July next year, with certification now anticipated in December 2003.

Existing development funding will be redirected to concentrate on getting a newly redesigned prototype of the airplane in the air, said Raburn. Recent technical changes to the Eclipse 500 include moving the engines forward 19.5 in., redesigning the windshield and cockpit side windows, moving the door from the right side to the left and reshaping the dorsal fin and wing root, among other refinements.

Raburn also said that “philosophical differences” between it and engine maker Williams International have led to the termination of an agreement in which the companies would be partners in the airframe development program.

Williams is still slated to supply the Eclipse 500’s 770-lb-thrust Williams EJ22 turbofans, but it will no longer be formally involved with designing the airplane. Raburn said Eclipse expects to save money by moving the development program out from under Williams’ higher cost structure.

EMBRAER
Legacy
–Brazil’s Embraer officially entered the business jet market when it launched at last year’s Farnborough Air Show the Legacy, a business jet variant of its 37-seat ERJ-135 regional jet. However, the 3,200-nm-range Legacy will be easy to distinguish from its regional airline sibling, since it will be equipped with winglets and aft strakes.

Embraer’s super-midsize Legacy achieved first flight on March 31 when S/N 363–the first iteration to be fitted with auxiliary fuselage fuel tanks, winglets and aft strakes–took off from São José dos Campos Airport (SBSJ) in Brazil on a two-hour flight. Strakes were added to “yield better stability and handling characteristics,” even though the twinjet is equipped with a yaw-damper system. S/N 412, the first production delivery Legacy, will be used for interior certification (it will be outfitted in a 13-passenger configuration). That aircraft will be on display at the NBAA show this month.

Brazilian certification was originally slated for the end of July, but paperwork delays have pushed this to at least next month. FAA and JAA approval are expected by the end of the year. A corporate shuttle version will be certified by next summer. Embraer claims it has orders for 36 of the $19.8 million jets (equipped), with options for an additional 34. (Launch customer Swift Air of Phoenix holds firm orders for 25 of the twinjets and options for 25.)

EXPLORER AIRCRAFT
Explorer 500R/500T/750T
–Explorer Aircraft has completed the initial flight test of the prototype of the $900,000, 10-passenger, Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-135B-powered 500T, scheduled for certification in 2004. The $700,000, 10-passenger 500R, powered by Orenda, is scheduled to be certified in mid-2003. And the $1.15 million, PT6-60A-powered 750T, stretched for 16 passengers, is scheduled to be certified by early 2006.

The Denver-based company has selected the Garmin GNS 430 integrated navcom system and a two-axis S-Tec/Meggitt autopilot for the 500T. All Explorer airplanes will also be equipped with Hartzell four-blade propellers.

FAIRCHILD DORNIER
Envoy 3
–The FAA and JAA have approved the Fairchild Dornier 328JET, the platform for the Envoy 3 business jet, for operations to 35,000 ft, from its original service ceiling of 31,000 ft. The additional 4,000 ft is expected to give operators of the P&WC PW306B-powered twinjet more flexibility in route planning and better than 10-percent more fuel efficiency. Meanwhile, final assembly of the first Envoy 3 corporate variant was recently completed at Fairchild Dornier’s Oberpfaffenhofen facility in Germany. It was flown earlier this year to the company’s San Antonio facility for completion and certification of its flat-floor executive interior. Expected to be finished in the fourth quarter, the aircraft will be used as a company demonstrator.

Envoy 7–Initial fatigue testing of a 728JET fuselage confirmed design projections for structural integrity, according to Fairchild Dornier. The Envoy 7 is a business jet version of the 728JET.

Winglets will be included on the Envoy 7. In an announcement at the Paris Air Show, Fairchild Dornier said that the company’s own Super Shark winglet design, coupled with a mtow increase to 87,000 lb, will give the Envoy 7 an eight-passenger range of 4,000 nm. Predictions show that the winglet will reduce overall aircraft cruise drag by 3.5 percent and decrease fuel burn by more than 5 percent on a 4,000-nm mission.

The company has also increased baggage capacity in the 18-seat Envoy 7 to 220 cu ft, comprising 100 cu ft in under-floor compartments and 120 cu ft in the rear of the aircraft. First flight of the twin-engine regional/business jet is on track for early next year, with certification scheduled for the second quarter of 2003. The company reports firm orders for 29 Envoy 7 business jets, priced at $25.5 million green. The first Envoy 7 is scheduled to be delivered in 2004.

FARNBOROUGH-AIRCRAFT.COM
F1
–Farnborough Aircraft has completed computer and wind-tunnel validation of the wing design for its F1 single-engine turboprop. The F1, featuring a composite airframe, is scheduled to begin flight tests in early 2003 with a view to entering service by the end of 2004. Powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-60A, the six-seat F1 promises a 330-kt cruise speed and runway performance that will allow it to operate air-taxi flights of up to 1,000 nm from virtually any airfield. Farnborough’s business plan assumes that European civil aviation authorities will lift the ban on commercial passenger IFR operations by single-engine aircraft.

GULFSTREAM AEROSPACE
GIV-X
–Gulfstream is mum about its next-generation GIV–now being called the GIV-X. However, vendors have been forthcoming with more information than Gulfstream on the GIV-X, including Rolls-Royce’s announcement last year that the jet would be powered by a pair of Fadec-equipped Tay 611s. Another systems vendor referred to the jet as the GVI, though Gulfstream won’t comment on this designation.

The GIV-X is expected to have a four-passenger NBAA IFR range of between 4,500 nm and 5,000 nm. While the Savannah, Ga.-based company would neither confirm nor deny this, this range estimation seems logical, if one compares the range and price of the GIV-SP with competing aircraft.

The Dassault Falcon 900EX, for example, costs about the same as a GIV-SP (which has a four-passenger range of 4,080 nm), but the French business jet has an approximately 600-nm range advantage (4,640 nm) over the current GIV-SP. Likewise, Bombardier’s Challenger 604 has a four-passenger range essentially the same as the GIV-SP’s, but costs about $9 million less, according to aircraft performance and cost analyst Conklin & de Decker of Orleans, Mass.

If Gulfstream is aiming for a 4,500-plus-nm version of the GIV, it wouldn’t be the first time. In late 1994, the company said it was considering the development of a GIV-B, a 4,600-nm version of the GIV-SP. Gulfstream said it would gain the additional 500 nm to 600 nm by increasing the wingspan of the GIV-SP and incorporating the winglets that were then being designed for the GV.

In spring 1995, Gulfstream revealed that the range of the proposed GIV-B would slip to about 4,450 nm–still nearly 400 nm greater than the GIV-SP, but about 150 nm less than Gulfstream originally had hoped for. Just two months later Gulfstream said it had “temporarily halted further development” of the GIV-B, adding, “At this time the marketplace does not place a high value on a range increase of 5 to 7 percent over the GIV-SP.” If the market now places a high value on that extra range, Gulfstream is sure to announce something about the GIV-X at this month’s NBAA meeting in New Orleans.

GV-SP–The Gulfstream V-SP, announced at last year’s NBAA Convention, will be equipped with Honeywell’s new PlaneView EFIS avionics suite, consisting of four 14- by 10-in. liquid crystal displays, as well as a standard HUD and Enhanced Vision System. The GV-SP will have a maximum range of 6,750 nm, a 250-nm increase over the GV.

Modification of the first of two Gulfstream Vs into flight-test GV-SPs was completed last month, with the first iteration being rolled out on August 8. Flight testing of the GV-SP, which will succeed the GV, is scheduled to start late this year.

According to Gulfstream senior v-p of programs Preston Henne, the first fully conforming GV-SP (S/N 5001) will fly by next summer and be certified late next year, with delivery of completed aircraft to start in the third quarter 2003. The GV-SP is a derivative of the GV, featuring a major avionics upgrade, an increase in cabin space, improved aerodynamics and a slight increase in takeoff thrust. Henne said the GV-SP order book now exceeds 40 aircraft, including the launch order of 20 for Executive Jet’s NetJets fractional-ownership program.

IBIS AEROSPACE
Ae270
–The 1,300-nm (NBAA IFR) Ae270P made its first flight on July 25 last year, and that first single-engine turboprop has logged about 75 flight hours. The second flying prototype is expected to make its first flight before this month’s NBAA Convention. Earlier this year, the aircraft was expected to fly in February, then June. The number-two aircraft will be used for static testing.

At June’s Paris Air Show, Ibis Aerospace, a joint venture of Czech Aero Vodochody and China’s AIDC, said that it held firm orders for 27 of the turboprop singles and memorandums of understanding for 24 more, a backlog estimated at $100 million. All orders are from distributors, which Ibis is actively signing.

Two versions of the airplane are being developed: the basic Ae270P, powered by a 1,029-shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-42A engine; and an “advanced” Ae270HP, powered by a 1,583-shp PT6A-66A. Both engine types will be flat-rated to 850 shp for takeoff. The first production Ae270HP (aircraft number five) is scheduled for assembly later this year. Certification of the basic version is planned for late in the second quarter of next year and first deliveries in the early fourth quarter. The advanced version is expected to be certified in the latter part of next year.

PIPER AIRCRAFT
Meridian
–The FAA last September awarded FAR Part 23 certification to Piper’s Meridian turboprop single, which was under development since 1997. Powered by a single P&WC PT6A-42A, the Meridian features an advanced flight deck with Garmin and Meggitt avionics. Software problems with the Meggitt avionics had delayed certification of the airplane from earlier last year. The first customer delivery took place last year. Piper currently holds wholesale orders for 135 Meridians, 105 of which have retail buyers.

PHOENIX FANJET
SigmaJet/MagnaJet
–Phoenix FanJet (nee Alberta Aerospace), the Alberta, Canada developer of the two-seat SigmaJet and four-seat MagnaJet, said it has raised sufficient private capital for the time being to continue certification work on the SigmaJet, but still needs about $6.5 million to complete certification. President and CEO Ray Johnson would not disclose the number of firm deposits for the SigmaJet, but he said that there has been some interest from four to five airlines that would use the Williams-Rolls FJ44-1A-powered jet for ab initio training. He expects certification flight testing to take five to six months and be completed in the fourth quarter of next year.

Johnson, a former president and CEO of Piper Aircraft, said the sole flying SigmaJet prototype, which had not flown for some two years, was put back in the air on May 1 and shortly thereafter received its certificate of airworthiness.

RAYTHEON AIRCRAFT
Hawker 450
–At last year’s NBAA Convention, Raytheon Aircraft introduced the Hawker 450, a light midsize business jet that will offer a range of more than 2,000 nm, speed in excess of Mach 0.80, a 5-ft 11-in. stand-up cabin and double-club seating. With market entry some five years away, Raytheon said it will be priced at $8.4 million (2001 $). The Hawker 450 will feature a composite fuselage and swept aluminum wing design like that used on the new Raytheon Premier I and Hawker Horizon business jets.

The new bizjet is expected to compete directly with the Cessna Citation Excel and Learjet 45. Honeywell is a risk-sharing partner, and two of its 4,070-lb-thrust TFE731-40 turbofans will power the new Hawker 450, which also will feature Honeywell Primus Epic avionics. Raytheon Aircraft in mid-June released performance guarantees for the Hawker 450.

With full fuel, two pilots and five passengers, Raytheon is guaranteeing the Hawker 450 will have a range of 2,000 nm, a takeoff field length of 4,700 ft and a max cruise speed of 470 kt. The company claims it holds orders for more than 110 copies of the new business jet.

Hawker Horizon–Rollout of Raytheon Aircraft’s super-midsize Horizon on April 17 occurred nearly two years later than originally scheduled. The first iteration made its maiden flight on August 11, testing the aircraft’s flying qualities, engine operation, low-speed handling and climb performance. The Horizon is the largest airplane Raytheon Aircraft has ever made (30 percent larger than the Hawker 800XP).

The P&WC PW308A-powered Horizon is one of the first business jets to be equipped with the Honeywell Primus Epic avionics suite, which includes five 8- by 10-in. LCDs and a cursor control device. The $16.9 million base price of the Horizon includes paint, standard eight-passenger interior, Airshow and a standard avionics package that makes the airplane flight-ready for RVSM approval and international missions.

Performance guarantees for the Horizon, within ±3 percent, are: sl ISA takeoff distance, 5,250 ft; NBAA IFR range (200-nm alternate, six passengers) 3,100 nm at Mach 0.82, 3,400 nm at Mach 0.78; and sl ISA landing distance, 2,340 ft. Raytheon estimates that operators will see average hourly DOCs of $919 for the first five years (based on 2001 retail fuel prices).

The second of four airplanes to be used in the flight-test program should fly early next year. FAA certification and first deliveries are planned for 2003. JAA certification will follow FAA approval. With orders and options for more than 150 units, a Horizon ordered today won’t be delivered until 2006.

Premier I–Raytheon’s Premier I entry-level business jet finally received FAA certification on March 23, closing the book on a certification program that concluded 28 months later than the company originally projected. Asked by how much, in dollars, the Premier I development and certification program had overrun initial estimates, a Raytheon Aircraft spokesman told AIN that the program had cost a total of “more than $300 million,” which represented an overrun of between “40 and 45 percent” beyond the anticipated budget when the airplane was launched in 1995.

The Wichita company claims it has more than 300 orders for the $5.3 million composite-fuselage, metal-wing twinjet, including 71 from its Travel Air fractional arm. Raytheon Aircraft on June 22 delivered its first Premier I to Omaha, Neb.-based businessman Troy Eaden. The manufacturer plans on delivering 36 of the entry-level jets by year-end.

The Premier I is Raytheon Aircraft’s first all-new airplane from an original design and the first composite-fuselage business jet to gain FAA certification. And the business jet has not been without its teething problems. While the Williams FJ44-2-powered Premier I meets most of its guaranteed performance goals, it busted its 3,000-ft takeoff distance by nearly 800 ft. The company said it would shorten the takeoff distance by making an engine “software change” that essentially upgrades the powerplant to an FJ44-2A variant.

SAFIRE AIRCRAFT
S-26
–Resizing of the planned Safire S-26 light twinjet has resulted in a 20-kt reduction in the originally targeted max cruise speed. Safire Aircraft of West Palm Beach, Fla., prompted by the desire to achieve a 350-kt max cruise, opted for higher-thrust Agilis turbofan engines (1,000 lb compared with 800 lb). Now, the heavier and more powerful engines necessitate increases in the small six-seat jet’s size and weight. Target max cruise speed is now 330 kt, ferry range is 1,550 nm (with 100-nm alternate) and NBAA IFR range is 610 nm (1,000-lb payload, 100-nm alternate).

The company claims orders for more than 800 airplanes, backed by non-refundable, interest-bearing $8,000 deposits. An additional 15 percent of the purchase price is due at first flight. The price of the S-26 is capped at $869,000 for those placing deposits before September 15. After that date, the price cap rises to $919,000.
Safire Aircraft continues development of the S-26 twin-engine, entry-level business jet while it is securing funding from investors. In addition to investors, the startup phase of the S-26 program has been financed by the Margaritoff brothers: Dimitri, Michael and Alexander.

Safire expects to fly the first S-26 in June 2003 and receive certification in June 2004. First deliveries are scheduled to start in third-quarter 2004. The company plans to manufac