Nextant Aerospace founder and CEO Kenn Ricci said yesterday here at NBAA 2012 that his company will announce its next business jet remanufacturing program–dubbed “Project XXT”–in early January. It will be a midsize jet, he told AIN, with service entry scheduled for 2015. Ricci expects a mockup of the aircraft to be at the NBAA show next year, with first flight expected about 15 to 18 months from now.
“We’ve already done the preliminary engineering and wind tunnel work, as well as supplier section for avionics, engines and other systems,” he noted. While Nextant is technically ready to reveal the program today, Ricci said, “The avionics manufacturer has asked us to wait until January because of contractual obligations with another manufacturer, so we can’t make the announcement until then.”
Though he wouldn’t reveal the aircraft type for Project XXT, Ricci said candidate aircraft must meet three basic criteria: there has to be a big enough market; the aircraft needs to be improved; and there has to be an engineering fix available to enable these improvements. “In the end, we came up with four prime candidates and 15 marginal candidates.” Using this criteria, AIN believes that both the Learjet 60 and Hawker 800 would be among the four prime candidates, though Ricci wouldn’t confirm this.
Meanwhile, Nextant continues to make headway with its remanufactured 400XT, which obtained FAA approval about a year ago. The company now expects to receive EASA certification of the 400XT by the middle of next month, to be followed soon after by delivery to a private buyer in Switzerland. This aircraft–the 25th delivered 400XT–will be managed by TAG Aviation for the customer.
Nextant also said that the shark-fin winglets for the 400XT are on track to be certified by early second quarter next year. Following this certification, Ricci said that all in-service 400XTs will be retrofitted with the winglets, while new aircraft will come delivered with them.
Additionally, the first 400XT level-D flight simulator aircraft came online this month at CAE’s facility at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Customer in-simulator training for the remanufactured jet will start by the end of this week, the companies said.