FARNBOROUGH 2008: New horizons for the Hawker 4000

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In the Business Air Park you will see some of the most exciting products to hit the market in years. One aircraft has been a long time coming, but it’s proving worth the wait - the Hawker 4000 is finally here.

More than 12 years after the project was launched, the Hawker 4000 is finally making its Farnborough debut – and potential customers can even try it out on demonstration flights.

Brad Hatt, Hawker Beechcraft’s president commercial sales, has been instrumental in keeping waiting customers happy and queuing in line for their production slots. The final green light earlier this year must have been a special moment for him.

He says: “When the aircraft was certified we all breathed a big sigh of relief, as well as felt the excitement of certification. We were happy for our customers who had been waiting and anticipating. It was a long journey, but worthwhile. The final product is a fabulous airplane that means we can start the sales process again.” Hatt has been with the programme since day one and was part of the team that launched the aircraft.

The super-mid sized jet with a 3,280nm range is already a hit. Born from a clean-sheet design, it has a carbon fibre fuselage, which translates into considerable weight savings, meaning better performance and fuel economies, as well as lower life-cycle costs.

Powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada PW308A FADEC controlled engines, coupled with a supercritical advanced wing design, the 4000 has impressive hot and high and short field performance. The cockpit is equipped with Honeywell’s Primus Epic avionics package offering enhanced situational awareness and flight management systems. These provide real-time flight monitoring and status, thereby reducing pilot workload.

 hawker 4000
 © Hawker Beechecraft

Passengers get a good deal, too. Even for a super-midsize, the Hawker 4000 is a large aircraft. Much of that space comes courtesy of the composite fuselage, which has a 6ft high stand-up cabin. The manufacturer is offering a customisable interior, along with advanced Collins Airshow entertainment electronics.

Originally called the Hawker Horizon, the aircraft was launched at the 1995 NBAA show. Hawker was ambitious to get the aircraft off the ground then. At the time of launch the company already had two major projects in the works, the clean sheet Premier and the T-6 Texan II military trainer. These both took priority ahead of the 4000, as the OEM did not then have enough resources to handle all three projects at once.

Hatt will not be drawn on the exact sales figure for the Hawker 4000, but says that it is “somewhere in excess of 130 aircraft”. NetJets ordered 50 of the type at the 2005 Paris Air Show. It has been a challenging process keeping customers happy despite the long delays. Hatt is reported to have spoken to customers personally to keep them updated on the status of the programme.

The aircraft on the static is the first customer aircraft and belongs to Gary and Donna Hall. It was delivered in June. Hatt says the Halls had been waiting for at least five years and since there were dropouts ahead of them in the queue for positions they ended up with the first aircraft. However, he says: “We kept many people who first ordered the aircraft. They stayed with us even though we changed the delivery dates. We placed other aircraft with some; several came out of the Hawker 800/850 and 900XP lines.”

Of these customers, some will trade them for the 4000 when it becomes available, others will keep their new aircraft and have used them to augment their fleets and will also take their 4000 when it becomes available. Hatt cautions: “It has helped sales in a perverse way, but it is not the way you want to generate them.” The next position slot for the 4000 is the second quarter of 2010.

This is a testimony to the staying power of the design. In December 2006 the Hawker 4000 finally obtained its provisional FAA type certificate. The company then spent a great deal of 2007 making final adjustments to the jet. Now the 4000 is out in the market and competes with the super midsize Bombardier Challenger 300 and Gulfstream 200, both with stand up cabins, which fly for around 3000nm range and come in the $20-23 million bracket.

The first three 4000s off the line will remain in the US, and the first European example is for a British customer. Hatt says around 79% of orders have come from the international market. NetJets Europe (NJE) liked the 4000 so much it placed an order for 32 of them. Deliveries will start in the fourth quarter this year. The Hawker 4000 will be NetJets Europe’s entry-level large cabin business jet. NJE is the largest operator of Hawker Beechcraft aircraft in Europe.

Europe is Hawker Beechcraft’s liveliest region in terms of sales, which is why it has such a large presence at the show. In addition to the 4000 (which it has for ten days) the manufacturer is displaying the 400XP, the 900XP, a Premier 1A, a KingAir 350, a KingAir B200GT, a KingAir CG90Ti, and a Beechcraft Baron and a Beechcraft Bonanza. This is the largest line-up it has brought in several years and comes hot on the heels of the company’s major exhibition at EBACE. This policy is quite deliberate. Hatt says there is renewed interest in the company now that the 4000 is fully certificated and has entered service. He says: “It has given us credibility back in the market place.”

Hawker Beechcraft is now seeing most of its orders come from the international market, in particular Europe, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. The company has seen growth in every segment, but most of all in its larger jets, the 900XP and the 4000.

Hatt says: “Hawker Beechcraft has a renewed focus to be market leader. We have brought a full product line up and are committed to growing specifically in Europe. We have ramped up sales and support to reflect this. We are delighted and bullish to be at Farnborough and look forward to an exciting show.”