Nextant Aerospace received FAA supplemental type certificate (STC) approval last month for its 400XT conversion for the Beechjet 400A and Hawker 400XP. The company also announced that it is beginning a program to offer winglets on the jet and already has begun to study the next aircraft for conversion, according to Nextant president James Miller.
Nextant has four completed aircraft here at NBAA: one at its booth (No. C13113), one at the static display and two available for demonstration flights to qualified customers from the Flight Options facility at McCarran International Airport.
The $3.9 million 400XT base package includes acquisition of the used aircraft and replacement of the original Pratt & Whitney Canada JT15D-5 engines with Williams International FJ44-3APs, Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics, new paint and an up-to-date interior that replaces the soundproofing blankets, re-foams and recovers the seats and adds new headliner, window lines, drink rails, sidewalls, carpeting and veneer.
New in-cabin closet storage increases the overall baggage capacity to 53.2 cu ft or 800 pounds.
Customers can choose from four floor plans, all with single seats for five to seven passengers. Interiors can be further enhanced from a list of options relating to in-flight entertainment equipment and LED lighting.
The Rockwell Collins Venue cabin management system is a $120,000 option. Venue includes a high-definition media center with file server; Blu-ray player; HD video wired to each seat; dual 1080p 10.6-inch HD monitors; four iPod/iPhone docking stations; 3-D moving map; programmable switches at each seat position, in the galley and the lav; downwash, seat, and table lighting controls; cabin temperature controls; and controls for optional I-Shade electronically dimmable window shades. I-Shades provide a range of tints from 99.5 percent light blockage to fully clear. More monitors can be added at additional cost.
Passenger device power and connectivity comes from 110-volt AC and Ethernet receptacles mounted on either side of the cabin in the lower sidewalls near the aft edge of each fold-out table. Airborne connectivity is via Aircell’s Axxess (Iridium) voice and data communication system.
Nextant’s goal–unlike that of many past re-engine and refurbishment programs–is serialized production, although it has sold conversion packages for several customer-owned airplanes. However, in the main the company is buying used aircraft and converting and selling them. “The vast majority of our customers want to buy the 400XT like you would buy a new airplane, with a deposit, progress payments and final payment,” Miller said.
Nextant is slated to complete eight to 10 aircraft this year, deliver 26 400XTs in 2012 and approximately 36 per year thereafter. Already, the program has received an order worth $150 million to convert 40 Model 400A/XPs for Flight Options, a sister company to Nextant. Flight Options is the nation’s second-largest fractional share program and at one time operated 120 Model 400A/XPs. Through August, Nextant had 53 orders in hand including those from Flight Options.
Miller said that the company is in the process of staffing up to 105 employees by year’s end and had plans to add 30,000 sq ft to its current 100,000-sq-ft main hangar, shop and office facility. “We’ve got some great talent from Wichita and Tucson,” he said, referring to business jet OEMs in those locations that have had large layoffs. Over the summer Nextant worked to train staff and to implement lean manufacturing processes that have driven conversion times down from 14 to eight weeks. Miller thinks than can ultimately be reduced to seven.
In October 2010, Hawker Beechcraft announced its own conversion program for the 400A/XP, called the 400XPR. The $2.24 million XPR package requires customers to bring their own aircraft to a Hawker Beechcraft service center. Like the Nextant program, this one adds Pro Line 21 avionics and Williams engines (in this case the FJ44-4A-32), and a refurbished interior. The 400XPR also includes winglets.
Miller said Nextant is working with Winglet Technology to develop winglets for the 400XT that will be similar in appearance to Winglet’s Cessna Citation X products. Nextant plans to begin flying shapes early next year. The winglets’ performance design goals are to increase range by 8 percent on a five-hour trip to near 2,200 nm and achieve overall fuel burn improvement of 6 to 8 percent. The winglets should also give the 400XT significantly better high/hot performance. Nextant hasn’t yet set a price or delivery date for the winglets, but Miller predicted that the price will be “very attractive.”
Nextant will likely make an announcement about a follow-on project to the 400NXT by year’s end. “It will be a bigger airplane, but not too much bigger,” Miller said. “Like the 400 it will be a basically solid airframe that needs more power, better fuel burn, new avionics, an aerodynamic clean-up and more baggage space.”