Nextant completes 400Next engine mating and readies aircraft for first flight

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Nextant Aerospace has completed the last hurdle of its 400Next modernisation programme following the mating of the Williams International FJ44-3AP engines to a Beechjet 400A.

"The replacement of the Pratt & Whitney Canada JT15D-5 engines with the FJ44s is the final phase of the 400Next product, which breathes new life into the Hawker 400A/XP," says Nextant president Jim Miller.

The twin-engined aircraft is being prepared for ground testing and is on track for its first flight in the next six weeks.

The programme will involve around 200-400 flying hours, leading to US certification and first deliveries in the first half of 2011.

nextant aerospace beechjet 400a, nextant aerospace
 © Nextant Aerospace

The first tranche of improvements have already been incorporated into the legacy aircraft including a Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 cockpit upgrade, Venue cabin management system and the reconfigured and revamped cabin. The first aircraft was delivered to an undisclosed customer in April.

Cleveland, Ohio-based Nextant says it has two orders to date for the P&WC-powered 400Next with the cabin and cockpit upgrades and six orders for the fully upgraded version which also offers aerodynamic enhancements including nacelles, pylons and an improved engine mounting configuration.

Miller says the Williams engines boost the 400's range from around 2,400km (1,300nm) to 3,700km and reduces fuel consumption by around 30%. The aircraft's $3.9 million price tag - based on a 1999 model year - is also far less than other light jet category defining aircraft such as the $7 million Embraer Phenom 300 and the $9 million Cessna CJ4, he adds.

Nextant reports considerable interest in the 400Next. "Once the certification is in hand we feel confident we will have sold out the first year's production," says Miller.