Nextant Innovates With Latest Reworking of Light Jet
Nextant Aerospace recently introduced the 400XTi model as the latest evolution of the remanufactured light business jet. Compared to the 400XT, the new version (the “i” stands for innovation) introduces a number of improvements, including an all-new cabin that offers more space and reducednoise. 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.
The U.S. company’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 anoption.
To reinforce the improvements made by the 400XT and to extend its popularity, Nextant has 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 moreheight.
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 41,000 feet 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 83dB.
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 (Stand 2007) 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 twoyears.
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 averageflight.
To date, Nextant has delivered twenty-eight 400XTs to customers in six countries, with many more orders contributing to a healthy $175 million backlog. The company 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, and is expected to make an announcement about which has been selected at the next NBAA show to be held in Las Vegas this October.