Nextant Aerospace has chosen EBACE to launch the 400XTi (the ‘i’ stands for innovation), the latest evolution of the remanufactured light business jet. Compared to the 400XT, the new version introduces a number of improvements, including an all-new cabin that offers more space and reduced noise.
Since it gained certification in late 2011, the Nextant 400XT has proved popular as operators have come to realize that a factory-fresh light business jet with the latest features and class-leading operating economics is available for less than $5 million, around 50 percent of the cost of comparable new-build types. “The price point of the light jet had just got way out of whack with where it should be,” commented Jay Heublein, v-p global sales and marketing, adding that the Nextant 400XT “can go anywhere point-to-point in Europe with the lowest operating costs.”
Hit hard by the economic downturn, the continent is an important market for the remanufactured jet. “We see our jet as built for Europe,” said Sean McGeough, Nextant’s president. “Between 2008 and 2012, 410 entry-level aircraft were delivered to Europe, a rise of 14 percent compared to the previous four years.”
Nextant’s 400XT is a completely reworked Beechjet/Hawker 400A/XP with new fuel-efficient Williams FJ44-3AP engines replacing the original range-limiting Pratt & Whitney JT15D-5s, aerodynamic improvements to the nacelles and pylons and many other enhancements. The jets are zero-lifed during an exhaustive 6,000-man-hour renewal/overhaul process and have a full two-year warranty (three for the engines), which can be extended to five years as an option.
To reinforce the improvements made by the 400XT and to extend its popularity, Nextant has now introduced the XTi enhancements, and all new aircraft will be finished to this standard. During initial work with the 400XT the company’s engineers realized that there were numerous voids within the original cabin space. Consequently, an all-new composite interior shell was designed to make better use of the internal volume. The result is a cabin that adds three inches of width at shoulder level, and 2.5 inches more height.
Working with a third party, Nextant has also devised an innovative noise-insulation package. The entirely passive solution reduces the already low noise levels at FL410 by 9 dB to around 65 to 66 dB, an unprecedented low noise level for this class of aircraft, which typically exhibit ambient noise levels of around 81 to 83 dB.
There have been improvements on the flight deck, too, with the removal of the last elements of instrumentation from the original aircraft and a transition to a dark cockpit concept with an L-3 Avionics three-in-one digital standby display between the main screens. The Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 flight deck is fitted alongside new LED warning displays from Luma Technologies. The original three lead-acid instrument standby batteries have been exchanged for two Mid-Continent True Blue Power MD835 lithium-ion units, resulting in a 16-pound weight savings and an extension of the routine inspection cycle from 90 days to two years.
From the outside the most obvious change is the installation of Nextant-designed drag-reducing “shark fin” winglets that further enhance performance. The 400XTi is shortly to gain an option for a Safe Flight autothrottle, which can also be retrofitted to earlier aircraft. The system will not only reduce pilot workload and provide AOA minimum speed protection, but could also net a 3- to 7-percent fuel saving on an average flight.
To support the growing Nextant fleet the company has put in place a global support network, including partnerships with Jet Aviation, Marshall Aerospace and NAC. In addition, Jet Aviation here at Geneva has been appointed as an authorized Nextant service center. In the near future new service centers are to open in the Middle East, Australia, China and India. Although Beechcraft, as OEM and holder of the type certificate, has stated that it will not support the 400XT/XTi, Nextant said that it is fully able to support the aircraft through its own network. The company has partnered with Aerospace Products International to provide a global parts distribution service.
To date, Nextant has delivered twenty-eight 400XTs to customers in six countries, with many more orders contributing to a healthy $175 million backlog. Here at EBACE the company announced that Aviators India is acquiring three 400XT is to be used as air ambulances alongside helicopters. Not only does this represent the first sale to India, for which Aviators will also become the local sales agent, but also the first use of the 400XTi in a special-mission application.
Nextant views the 400XTi as just the start of a family of aircraft as it hopes to move into the medium and heavy categories. The company is currently studying three aircraft types to be the platform for its next product. Speaking at EBACE, McGeough did not rule in or out the possibility of another Hawker jet, but confirmed that the Hawker 4000 and Premier (for which the type certificates are for sale) had earlier been looked at, but had been rejected.
In the meantime, market research consultant Argus has been engaged to conduct customer surveys to drive the selection of which platform Nextant will choose for its next product. The company expects to make that announcement at the NBAA show in October.