Nextant Says Time is Right For Value Light Jet

 - March 3, 2013, 2:30 AM

Despite soft pricing for light jets in both the pre-owned and charter markets in recent years, Nextant Aerospace is convinced that the time is right for its 400XT. According to the U.S. company’s newly appointed president, Sean McGeough, its remanufactured and reinvented take on Hawker Beechcraft’s Beechjet 400 is delivering the sort of improved performance at reduced cost that the entry-level sector of the market needs as it continues its slow recovery.

McGeough, who until recently ran Hawker Beechcraft’s Europe, Middle East and Africa division, said that the 400XT competes with jets such as Cessna’s Citation CJ4 and Embraer’s Phenom 300 at least as much as it does with his former employer’s 400XPR. This year Nextant is launching a renewed effort to penetrate Europe’s still stuttering market, having achieved European Aviation Safety Agency certification for the 400XT in November last year.

“There is a great opportunity for selling an aircraft like this in a down market,” McGeough told a recent press briefing at the London-area Farnborough Airport. Nextant claims that, with a base price of $3.975 million, the 400XT costs about half what competing aircraft do–on the basis that the CJ4 is priced at $9.04 million and the Phenom 300 at $8.14 million.

The transformation of Beechjet 400s into 400XTs involves a 6,000-hour remanufacturing process at Nextant’s factory in Cleveland, Ohio. The resulting aircraft is more than 85 percent “new” and qualifies for bonus depreciation under U.S. tax rules. It comes with an initial two-year warranty (three years for the engines) and this can be extended to five years on a power-by-the-hour program.

The main new features of the 400XT are its Williams FJ44-3AP engines and a Collins Pro Line 21 avionics suite. The airframe also gets an aerodynamic makeover involving redesigned pylons, streamlined engine cowlings, a new engine beam and mounting system and an improved horizontal stabilizer.

The 3,050-pound-thrust FJ44-3AP turbofans promise a 32-percent improvement in specific fuel consumption compared with the Beechjet 400A’s Pratt & Whitney Canada JT15D-5s. They also deliver an improved thrust-to-weight ratio of 5.8 (compared with 4.6) and reduced maintenance costs ($246 per hour versus $336), according to Nextant.

Nextant’s reported operating cost per mile comes in at $2.13 (based on a 1,000-nm flight and jet-A priced at $4.90 per U.S. gallon). It claims equivalent costs of $2.95 for the CJ4 and $2.41 for the Phenom 300.

The 400XT’s range, carrying four passengers and NBAA IFR reserves, is 2,005 nm. Operating out of Farnborough, for example, it can reach anywhere in Europe nonstop (including Moscow), most of North Africa and the Western edge of the Middle East. This range is close to that of the CJ4 and Phenom 300, but the 400XT, with a high-speed cruise of 460 knots, is 16 knots faster.

Available options include a fourth cockpit display, an integrated flight information system, attitude heading reference system, Collins Venue in-flight entertainment system and Aircell’s Axxess communications system. By the end of the second quarter, new winglets will also be certified.