EBACE Convention News

XPR Programs Extend HBC Reach Into Jet Aftermarket

 - May 13, 2012, 7:45 AM
The first flight of the re-engined Hawker 400XPR took place on May 3.

The first flight of the re-engined Hawker 400XPR on May 3 was the culmination of 14 months of work by Hawker Beechcraft and Sierra Industries to further enhance the 400 model, continuing efforts to breathe new life into one of Hawker Beechcraft’s older aircraft types.

The 400XPR is the second major modification program that Hawker Beechcraft Global Customer Support (Stand 7060) has launched. The first was the 800XPR upgrade; together they reflect a key strategy by the U.S. airframer manufacturer to bring new value to airframes that could last a long time and thus enhance the manufacturer’s revenue. However, it will have to compete with an alternative offering from Nextant Aerospace, which upgrades Beechjet/Hawker 400s with Williams engines and new avionics.

Sierra Industries, a Texas-based modification shop and its SWAT engineering division, provided manufacturing and engineering integration and did the modification work on both the 400XPR and the 800XPR. The 800XPR package offers winglets, Pro Line 21 avionics and replacement of the original Honeywell TFE731-5BR with -50 engines. A Hawker 800XPR is on display at the Hawker Beechcraft static display here at the EBACE show.

The 400XPR’s main upgrade swaps the original 3,000-pound thrust Pratt & Whitney Canada JT15D engines for Fadec-controlled 3,600-pound-thrust Williams International FJ44-4A-32s (flat rated to 3,200 pounds). The two other 400XPR upgrades are Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics (three- or four-display options) and Hawker Beechcraft-designed winglets. Each of the mods can be purchased individually or in combination. Improvements include 25 percent lower specific fuel consumption at long-range cruise, lower noise, greater “hot-and-high” airport performance and a 5,000-hour engine TBO (time between overhauls).

The 400XPR that flew on May 3 had just the engine upgrade; another 400XP was in a Sierra Industries hangar getting the final touch on the Pro Line 21 upgrade, while winglets are being installed, and will fly in about another six weeks. The avionics upgrade is certified and the winglets should be certified in August followed by the engine mod in September. Sierra and Hawker Beechcraft also incorporated other reliability improvements, including a nose-gear redesign that allows mechanics to service the nose strut’s hydraulic fluid without having to remove the strut; a bleed-air redesign to eliminate the need for a specific airworthiness directive; and a new starter-generator that will operate for 1,500 hours instead of the current 500.

Sierra Industries CEO Mark Huffstutler said he’d like to add a single-point refueling system for the 400XP. “It’s a hell of an airplane,” he said. “Incredibly strong with a beautiful interior, but it needed modernization.” There are 604 Beechjet 400A/XP jets eligible for the 400XPR upgrades. Sierra Industries is building the modification kits and Hawker Beechcraft Services will do the installations.

“This thing performed flawlessly,” said Huffstutler after the first flight. He flew left seat with Hawker Beechcraft test pilot Dave Newton in the right seat. After takeoff, the 400XPR climbed to 5,000 feet in one minute and reached 14,000 feet and 320 knots during the testing.