NBAA: Hawker and Nextant lock horns of 400 retrofit programmes

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Hawker Beechcraft Services has thrown down the gauntlet to Nextant Aerospace with a launch at the show of its Hawker 400XP/Beechjet 400A retrofit program to challenge the aircraft modifier's 400XT offering.

HBC's $2.64 million upgrade - dubbed the 400XPR - boasts composite winglets, Williams International FJ44-4A-32 engines - which replace the legacy aircraft's Pratt & Whitney Canada JT15D-5s - a Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 cockpit, and a host interior refurbishment packages and paint designs as an options. However, HBC vice president of global customer support Christi Tannahil dismissed its competitor saying: "This upgrade is the result of customer demand for a factory authorized, OEM-engineered upgrade to the 400A/XP that is fully supported through the Hawker Beechcraft support network."

nextant 400xt, nextant aerospace
 © Nextant Aerospace

The FJ44-4A-32 engines can produce 3,600lb of thrust (16kN), flat-rated to 3,200lb, said HBC. "This efficiency and margin translates into superior hot/high airport performance, range and operating cost, lower cabin noise, fuel consumption and carbon emissions," it continued. The composite winglets provide greater range, faster climb and enhanced stability.

"The 400XPR will climb directly to FL370 at maximum takeoff weight in just 12min - 7min faster than the Hawker 400XP. Climb performance combined with the upgrade's efficiency translates into transcontinental range in excess of 3,330km [1,800nm]," said HBC. The orderbook is now open, and the first aircraft is scheduled to enter service in the second quarter of 2012.

Nextant announced at the show this morning that it has clinched 40 orders for its FJ44-3AP-powered 400XT from fractional ownership company Flight Options. The aircraft will be delivered over a five-year period starting next year with eight units.

The $3.9 million 400XT has flown over 50h since the aircraft made its first flight in September. The twin jet offers a range of aerodynamic enhancements including nacelles, pylons and an improved engine mounting configuration, ProLine 21 avionics and Venue cabin management system. Deliveries are set to begin in the second quarter of 2011.

"Six aircraft have been purchased to date and are now in production. We plan to build 11 aircraft next year, increasing to 38 units by 2014" said Nextant chief executive Ken Ricci at the show this morning. He added that the Cleveland, Ohio-based company has established a service center network and has appointed 27 of the planned 135 production personnel who will be hired to support the program. Nextant president James Miller scoffed at suggestions that HBC's 400XPR poses a challenge: "We are in the market of buying aircraft which we upgrade and sell as new. HBC is simply upgrading aircraft that customers bring to them. We are also well ahead of the HBC with our first aircraft entering service next year."