Nextant Aerospace plans to the tenth example of its Nextant 400XT at EBACE 2012 in Geneva next week. The re-engined and cockpit-upgraded reworkings of Hawker Beechcraft’s Beechjet 400A are in demand on this side of the Atlantic, according to the company.
“Thirty percent of our delivered aircraft, including the one we are delivering here, have gone to Europe,” said Kenneth Ricci, CEO of both Nextant Aerospace and Flight Options, one of the largest fractional ownership and charter operators in the industry. Nextant has recently achieved milestones in its quest toward European certification for the 400XT, and is currently expanding its marketing affiliates and dealer network in Europe in response to demand.
Ricci formed Cleveland, Ohio-based Nextant Aerospace in 2007 with the aim of delivering better business jet technology from existing models and at the same time reducing operating costs. “Years and years of operating the Beechjet at Flight Options told us that people liked that cabin,” he said. “The problem was that the airplane wouldn’t go anywhere. In the winter or with lots of passengers, you had to stop for fuel. That’s where the idea came from to take the airframe and improve it.”
Nextant set out to do much more than just re-engine the aircraft. “There have not been that many successful re-engining programs,” said Ricci. “We found that just doing the engines doesn’t really work. But we loved the cabin of the Hawker Beechjet. Re-engining just wasn’t enough. Remanufacturing was the solution.”
The company is currently pumping out completely remanufactured Hawker Beechjet 400s as the Nextant 400XT, complete with tip-to-tail factory warranty, in nine to 10 weeks. Nextant takes 400A airframes that it purchases and replaces the Pratt & Whitney JT15D-5 engines with Williams FJ44-3APs, improving fuel consumption by more than 30 percent. New aerodynamically improved engine nacelles and a few other aerodynamic refinements are also installed.
Nextant then upgrades the cockpit avionics with Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 flat-panel displays, including associated avionics and controls and an on-board maintenance diagnostic system. Available options include IFIS (integrated flight information system) and XM Satellite Nexrad radar. The result, claims Nextant, is an aircraft that outperforms its progenitor and several other competing aircraft, and at a lower cost of operation.
“Our goal now is to get the remanufacturing time down to eight weeks, and we plan to do that by adding automation to the assembly and installation process,” said Ricci. The company also announced that it has acquired property and is in the process of quadrupling its manufacturing capabilities. “We have had 31 sales,” said Ricci.
“We are on track for delivering 31 aircraft by the end of this year.” This does not include the 40 orders that Flight Options has put in for the aircraft.