AIN 2011 Pilot Report: Hawker 4000

 - December 1, 2011, 12:05 AM
Super-midsize delivers on Hawker’s promises.

First announced at the 1996 NBAA Convention, the super-midsize Hawker Horizon, the company’s 60-percent composite construction business jet, made its first flight on Aug 11, 2001. It received its FAA type certificate just over five years later, on Nov. 21, 2006, with a new name too, the Hawker 4000. Raytheon, 3which owned what was to become Hawker Beech at the 4000’s conception, sold its ownership stake to a new partnership–Goldman Sachs and Onex–that renamed the company Hawker Beechcraft Corporation (HBC).

Recalling Beech’s failed Starship project, some industry snoop thought 10 years from concept to certification seemed to point to product flaws, and while the 4000 has not been without its teething problems, production airplanes are rolling off the line. There was, of course, the petition Raytheon filed in May 2006, requesting additional time to meet the tougher Part 25 airliner certification standards, such as the new fuel-tank requirements in the aftermath of the TWA 800 crash. The original Horizon ­design never included these requirements. They were added later by default when Hawker Beechcraft missed a crucial certification deadline.

The good news for HBC: the FAA granted the exemptions. The bad news: they expire in 2014, which meant Hawker Beechcraft needed a fuel-tank fix for 40 or so 4000s flying. HBC developed an upgrade and enhancement program to a number of 4000 systems to be added while the aircraft were opened up in Wichita anyway. HBC is picking up the tab, including the supplemental lift needed for current owners, for the 60 to 90 days the aircraft is in Wichita. Bill Boisture, Hawker Beechcraft’s CEO, believes, “There is a fundamental responsibility on the part of the certificate holder to do the right thing [in manufacturing].”

In addition to the fuel-tank modifications, the enhancement works a significant upgrade to the Honeywell Epic avionics, as well as the dual-channel Fadec, a new unattended mode for the APU, new landing-gear control module and a higher-capacity toilet. The Epic updates give pilots electronic access to approach charts, as well as automatically calculated and displayed takeoff data.

Shawn Vick, HBC’s executive vice president, acknowledges, “The 4000 [had] an extended gestation period…and people underestimated the degree of the [design and construction] challenge. But let’s not lose sight of the courage of conviction it took to launch an all-composite airplane in the 1990s and tackle what had not been tackled before. Today we’re sitting here with a super-midsize airplane that is the hands-down technological leader over any other midsize aircraft.”


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AIN 2011 Pilot Report: Hawker 4000 (301K)

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