Is the Hawker 4000 finally ready?

Hawker Beechcraft has just put out a nice press release about its achievements in its first year as a private company. Record sales, record backlog etc, etc. What’s not included on the list is delivery of the super mid-size Hawker 4000. The official word is “soon”, maybe with weeks, but I’m not holding my breath just yet.

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I was at Raytheon Aircraft for the rollout of the Hawker Horizon, as they were both called then, back in April 2001. I wrote about its certification in November 2006. But here I am in March 2008 still waiting for the first delivery to a customer. It’s been an interesting journey. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a great aircraft and worth the wait, but why so long?

First it was a resource issue. After the Premier I, the Hawker 4000 was only the second all-new aircraft certificated by Raytheon (rather than Beechcraft or Hawker). And the Premier didn’t go too smoothly. The pair share the same automated fibre-placement composite fuselage technology, but that seems to have been less of a hold-up than Raytheon’s general lack of experience with FAA certification.

The upshot was the Hawker 4000 breached the FAA’s limit of 10 years between applying for a type certificate and getting one. The FAA insisted the aircraft’s certification basis be brought up to date with the latest amendments, which required redesign of the fuel and hydraulic systems. This was a more onerous effort than the company envisaged, requiring an amended type certificate.

But the last step, the do-over of function and reliability flight testing, is now complete, the reports are being written and Hawker Beechcraft is hoping for final certification and first deliveries of the Hawker 4000, well, “soon”.

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