The past six years have brought mixed fortunes for business aircraft manufacturers. How are each of the sectors faring, and what new models will this innovative aviation sector bring to the market over the coming years to whet the appetite of discerning customers?
It has been a long and miserable few years for the lower end of the business jet spectrum. The financial collapse of 2008 has been brutal to this huge sector, triggering the disintegration of traditional markets in Europe and the USA, and eroding a long established and previously flourishing customer base.
This segment – which spans the $2.9 million Eclipse 550 very light jet (VLJ) to the $9.4 million Cessna Citation CJ4 light twinjet – commands a 40% share of the 18,500-strong global business jet fleet, but demand for these models has dissolved since the financial crisis and has yet to recover.
“This sector was hit harder than any other [mature] market segment,” says Daniel Hall, senior analyst with Ascend, a Flightglobal advisory service. “A sustained weak market and intensifying competition [with 13 types in this sector] has resulted in plummeting values. Most ten year-old aircraft have seen their value halved in nominal terms,”
Hall believes the light jet market can only fully recover when the traditional markets have recuperated. Thankfully, the economic recovery in the USA – home to around 70% of the VLJ and light-cabin fleet – is beginning to take hold, with a GDP growth of about 3% expected this year.
With the exception of the UK and Germany, Europe – home to around 12% of the global VLJ/light jet inventory – remains very fragile, however. “The global financial crisis has been compounded by the euro currency crisis and the collapse of economics in specific [previous strong markets for light jets], such as Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain,” says Hall.
According to fellow aviation analyst Rolland Vincent, a major barrier to recovery is the oversupply of aircraft in the US market. Large volumes of business jets, particularly in the light jet sector, were delivered during the 2006-2008 timeframe due to high demand. “Many aircraft are being used extensively, while others are being parked until a buyer come along,” says Vincent.
This over capacity has caused residual values to plummet. This is turn forced many aircraft owners to keep hold of their assets, rather than sell them at a huge loss.
Citing Ascend data, Hall reveals that first owners sold their aircraft after four years on average in 2004. This dropped to less than three years in 2008, and in 2014 an owner is holding on to their aircraft for around seven years.
For the many customers who have had no choice but to sell their aircraft – often at a huge loss – this has left a bitter taste in the mouth, Vincent says. “Luring these customers back to the fold will not be an easy task,” he adds.
What is needed is a fresh approach towards light business jet design, as many of the offerings in this segment are “simply too small” for many owners, particularly in North America.
He points to research from the US Department of Health and Human Services, which reveals the average weight of an American man in the 95th percentile has increased by 24% – or more than 23kg (51lb) – in the 40-plus years spanning the era of the earliest business jet designs to the pre-recession period. Average height also increased during the same period by nearly 1in.
“The traditional customer has evolved over the years,” says Vincent. “Many of the light business jets around today were designed with the smaller traveller in mind.” Embraer broke the mould with the Phenom 100 and 300, which have proven very popular within the segment due to their spacious cabins. The types are the largest in the entry-level and light-cabin segments. The Phenom 300 was the most popular aircraft in 2013, with 60 of the twinjets delivered between January and December.
Other manufacturers are under pressure to increase the cross sections of their aircraft, or bring something unique to the market within this increasingly large and crowded sector.
Cessna has made no secret of its intention to launch a new family of “wide cabin” light business jets, and says the key drivers of this future line-up will be a larger cabin, modern avionics and improved efficiency and direct operating costs.
The Textron Aviation subsidiary is already a market leader in the light business jet sector, with five aircraft in its line-up. This includes the 1,200nm (2,220km) entry-level Mustang, the 1,600nm M2, 1,800nm CJ2+, 2,100nm CJ3+ – which entered service in September – and the 2,400nm CJ4.
The airframer is well aware of the market appeal of small jets with large cabins. In 1994 it launched its Excel business jet to huge critical and customer acclaim. The 1,900nm aircraft was launched as a competitor to Bombardier’s Learjet 45 – which was introduced two years earlier, creating a new aircraft segment coined superlight.
Two years ago Cessna announced plans to launch a new family of “wide cabin” light business jets and unveiled a concept design to garner customer feedback.
Cessna declines to comment specifically on the current status of the project, but says it is “continuing to aggressively invest in new products”. “Future new product development opportunities will leverage the expertise and technology from the combined Cessna and Beechcraft teams,” the airframer says.
While the lower end of the business jet spectrum may be playing a very protracted and frustrating waiting game, this has not dampened the spirit of innovation which is still alive and well across the sector.
Both established and independent airframers are producing the current wave of new aircraft in an advanced stage of development.
The US developer of the SR family of piston singles is on track to deliver the world’s first single-engined personal jet late next year, and has already received 550 firm orders for the seven-seat Vision SF50.
The first production conforming aircraft, C0, flew for the first time on 24 March. It is being used for performance verification and, towards the end of the programme, will undertake in-air parachute testing. Aircraft C1 is scheduled to take to the skies before the end of the year and will be used for systems, ice and engine testing. A final flying prototype, C2, will join the flight test programme early next year and will undertake reliability evaluations. An earlier configuration technology demonstrator, V1, has accumulated around 800 flying hours and 1,000 engine runs since it was built in 2008.
The $1.96 million, carbonfibre Vision is equipped with a Garmin G3000 flightdeck and an emergency parachute system. Powered by a Williams International FJ33 turbofan, the aircraft has a range of 1,200nm, a stall speed of 61kt and a cruise speed of 300kt (556km/h).
After an 11-year certification effort, the HA-420 HondaJet is finally approaching the finishing line. Certification of the light jet is scheduled for the first quarter of 2015, leading to first deliveries soon after.
Joint venture partners GE Aviation and HondaJet clinched Part 33 certification for the 2,100lb-thrust (9kN) HF120 engine late last year, following an intensive programme that involved 13 engines and 14,000 cycles in 9,000h of testing.
The light-cabin, Garmin G3000-equipped business jet has a maximum cruise speed of 420kt and a range with four passengers of 1,180nm.
The Swiss airframer made its first foray into the business jet market with the launch in May 2013 of its PC-24. The light twinjet was rolled-out in August, and is scheduled to make its first flight before the end of the year. Pilatus – developer of the PC-12NG single-engined turboprop – says the PC-24 has been so well received that production of the Williams International FJ44-4A-powered aircraft is already sold out for the next three years.
The Cedar City, Utah-based start-up is planning to fly its SJ30i later this year. The Mach 0.83 light business jet is a revamped version of the SJ30 – originally built by Sino Swearingen and later by Dubai’s Emivest, before being acquired by its current owner MetalCraft.
The latest model will feature a Honeywell Primus Apex-based flightdeck called SyberVision and a new interior when it enters service in the second half of next year.
SyberJet is also developing a more powerful version of the seven-seat twin, dubbed the SJ30x. This model is scheduled to enter service in 2017, featuring more powerful Williams International FJ44-3AP-25 engines and dual FADEC controls. SybetJet says: “The SJ30x will offer more range, quicker time to climb, higher cruise speed at altitude, better hot-and-high performance, increased payload and single-point pressure refuelling.”
The superlight and midsize sectors have also had a tough time. This broad segment – which spans the $13.8 million Learjet 75 to the $24.5 million Gulfstream G280 – represents 43% of the global business jet market according to Ascend, but its overall value has declined since 2013 by more than 10%. The decline has been more pronounced in the superlight sector, however, which saw its value of its deliveries fall from more than 25% of the total market in 2008 to around 10% in 2013.
There are signs that this segment has already started to rebound, and aerospace analyst Rolland Vincent is buoyed by its prospects.
“We are more bullish about this sector than any other,” he says. “The purchase indications in our recent survey for the last 15 quarters reveal a great deal of interest in midsize models, particularly in the USA where over 70% of the fleet is based… Buyers are intrigued by the host of new aircraft being developed.”
He argues the superlight/midsize sector offers more value to buyers than many of the light- and large-cabin offerings on the market today. “They have large stand-up cabins, long enough ranges to meet virtually all transcontinental US missions and even the occasional transatlanctic crossing from the US northeast,” he says. Many new buyers are choosing to opt for a midsize business jet straight away rather than move up through the segments, he adds.
Ascend shares Vincent’s optimism. In its recent 10-year forecast, the data services provider reveals a steady year-on-year increase in deliveries across these two segments between 2014 and 2023.
This delivery surge is attributable to the plethora of tantalising, groundbreaking new designs and overhauled models that are taking centre stage in this busy market segment.
The Canadian airframer has had a busy 10 months. December marked the entry into service of the superlight Learjet 75 – a remodelled version of the 16-year-old Learjet 45, featuring more powerful Honeywell TFE731-40BR engines, a Garmin G5000-based Vision flightdeck and a new interior. Six months later the upgraded Challenger 350 entered service, replacing the industry’s best-selling super-midsize model, the Challenger 300. The 10-seat Challenger 300 entered service a decade ago and ranked second in the shipment charts in 2013, with 55 aircraft shipped.
The 350 is powered by Honeywell HTF7350 turbofans and features a Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 advanced avionics suite and a revamped cabin with Lufthansa Technik’s Nice high-definition cabin management system, contemporary seat design and a new modular galley.
Meanwhile, the future of Bombardier’s newest midsize offering, the Learjet 85, is unclear following the airframer’s decision in July to review the certification and entry into service timeframe of the clean-sheet design as part of a wider rethink of priorities with the Global 7000 and 8000 programmes. The 10-seat aircraft was launched in 2008 and entered flight testing on 9 April this year – more than two years late – due to what Bombardier vaguely described as challenges with the composite construction. The Learjet 85 has continued to perform test flights in Wichita, but Bombardier has steadily refused to clarify the entry into service date for the aircraft.
As with the light sector, Cessna is a pre-eminent player in the superlight and midsize segments. Two of its established platforms – the Citation Sovereign and high-speed X – have each undergone a major makeover in the past year.
Cessna will be hoping the improved performance, revamped interior and Garmin G5000 flightdeck will heighten the appeal and extend the life of the 10-year-old and 18-year-old designs for some time to come.
As competition has intensified in this sector, however, Cessna has turned its attention to new designs to challenge rival offerings.
The first new aircraft to come to market will be the Latitude midsize business jet. Cessna has set its sights on 2015 certification and service entry of the midsize jet, which was launched in 2011 and falls neatly within the gap created between the 3,000nm (5,560km) Sovereign+ and the 2,100nm Citation XLS+.
The nine-seat twinjet has logged around 100h of flight time since making its maiden flight on 18 February, and Cessna says it has already achieved its full performance envelope, reaching its maximum speed of 440kt (815km/h) and altitude of 45,000ft. The Latitude shares the wing, aft section and the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW306D engine with the Sovereign+, but it introduces a wider and taller cabin, stretching the width by 28cm (11in) to 1.96m and the height by 10cm to 1.83m. The 2,500nm-range Latitude also features the Garmin G5000 integrated flightdeck and Clarity cabin management system.
These interior features are also destined for the new super-midsize Longitude, which is scheduled to enter service in 2017. The Longitude sits at the top of Cessna’s product line. It uses the same fuselage cross section, windows, passenger seats and aluminium construction as the smaller Latitude, but according to the technical specifications will be 2.74m longer. Powered by a pair of FADEC-controlled, 11,000lb-thrust (49kN) Snecma Silvercrest engines, the Longitude is projected to have a maximum take-off weight of around 55,000lb, a maximum range of 4,000nm and a maximum cruise speed of 490kt. Cessna is rumoured to be evaluating a change in the Longitude design. This may be its interim answer to a large-cabin offering, which it the airframer is unlikely to consider in the medium term, given capital constraints and the under-performing light jet sector.
Embraer is poised to deliver the first Legacy 500 business jet, having received certification for the midsize type in August. The Mach 0.83 10-seat aircraft will be joined next year by its superlight stablemate, the M0.82 Legacy 450.
The clean-sheet Legacy 500/450 were launched in 2008. The programmes have raised the benchmark for superlight and midsize products by offering features typically found on a large-cabin business jet. These include fly-by-wire flight controls, a 2m cabin height and an extensive baggage area. Both aircraft also feature Honeywell HTF7500E turbofan engines and Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion avionics.
The Legacy 500 beat several critical performance metrics during the flight test phase, and can now can take off in 1,250m (4,100ft), compared with the originally promised 4,600ft, increasing the number of missions the aircraft can perform. Embraer says its strategic aim with the Legacy 500 is to compete with established midsize players such as the Sovereign+ and the Challenger 350 in the super-midsize category, which has held-up well during the downturn.
Embraer’s next task is to usher the mid-light Legacy 450 through certification tests. The aircraft first flew in December 2013, and Embraer believes the flight test programme can be completed within 600 flight hours. Certification is scheduled for mid-2015.
The top end of the business jet market has been left largely unscathed by the financial downturn due to continued demand for high-end aircraft from the world’s wealthy elite and global corporations.
According to Ascend, this sector – which spans the $31 million Challenger 605 to the Airbus ACJ321 – represented 69% of the $18.5 billion business jet delivery value in 2013. Ascend expects the popularity of these top-end aircraft to continue for the next 10 years, as a wave of new designs enter the market. In its latest forecast it predicts nearly 10,000 business jets from across the spectrum will be delivered between 2013 and 2023, with a total delivery value of $258 billion. Of this, the large-cabin/long range/VIP airliner segment is predicted to account for around 60% of the value share.
This prognosis is supported by Bombardier. In its latest market forecast it predicts that 5,250 aircraft in the $50-75 million category – the Global 5000 upwards – will be delivered between 2014 and 2033, representing 24% of overall business aircraft industry unit shipments and 46% of the total delivery revenues.
In light of this sanguine prognosis, it is not surprising that the newly restructured company has decided to review its development priorities. The appraisal could lead to the ultra-long range Global 7000 and 8000 programmes being shifted to the top of its development pecking order.
The large-cabin and ultra-long range types were launched in 2010, with an entry into service date of 2016 and 2017, respectively.
Both aircraft will be powered by General Electric’s 16,500lb-thrust (73kN) Passport 20 engine and feature an all-new, high-speed transonic wing.
The Global 7000 will have a 74.9m3 (2,650ft3) cabin – 20% bigger than the Global 6000, which currently sits at the helm of Bombardier business jet family.
The aircraft will have a high-speed cruise of Mach 0.90 and a range of 7,300nm (13,500km) at M0.85. Bombardier has given no indication of when the Global 7000’s flight test campaign will begin, but it stresses that the aircraft remains on track for certification in 2016.
The Global 8000 will feature a 63.4m3 cabin and have a range of 7,900nm at M0.85.
The French airframer is developing two new business jets in parallel, marking what it calls “an unprecedented financial investment” in Falcon jets. The firm now boasts a family of six aircraft at the upper end of the range, from the 3,350nm-range super-midsize 2000S – Dassault’s entry-level offering – to the latest “flagship” 8X, with a 6,450nm range.
Launched in May, the 8X and will have the longest cabin and greatest range of any Falcon produced in the company’s 50-year history, when it enters service in 2016.
The trijet is an enhanced and stretched version of the airframer’s former flagship Falcon, the 7X, which entered service in 2007 and is now approaching its 250th delivery milestone.
The 8X offers 500nm more range than the 5,950nm 7X, allowing it to connect more city pairs than its stablemate – notably the Beijing-Los Angeles and Hong Kong-London routes. The growing Chinese market was instrumental in the launch of the 8X, and the country now accounts for around 30% of the region’s business jet fleet. The desire for long-range aircraft, mainly from Chinese entrepreneurs, has resulted in deliveries of 30 7Xs in the past three years alone, including 11 7Xs in 2013.
To allow for the extra range, Dassault added an additional fuel tank within the centre fuselage section, which enables the 8X to carry up to 15,800kg of fuel.
The 19-seat aircraft also features a redesigned wing derived from the Falcon 7X, which has an optimised leading edge profile and winglets. It will be powered by three Pratt & Whitney Canada PW307D engines, each delivering 6,720lb-thrust.
The 8X has an anticipated balanced field length of about 1,830m, an approach speed of about 107kt at typical landing weight and an ability to make approaches at up to 6˚. Like the 7X, it will operate at many of the world’s most challenging airports, including London City, Aspen in Colorado, La Mole-Saint Tropez in France and Saanen in Switzerland, which are normally not accessible to most large-cabin aircraft.
The cockpit will feature a new iteration of the EASy flightdeck, based on Honeywell Primus Epic avionics, with Honeywell flight management systems. Another facet of the cockpit is the head-up display technology, provided by Elbit Systems, combining enhanced and synthetic vision.
The 8X has the same cabin cross-section as the 7X, but more than 1.1m has been added to the length. This extra space has allowed Dassault to offer three floor plans in 30 different interior configurations, and up to 33 windows – four more than the 7X.
Two aircraft are being built for the certification campaign. The first aircraft is already assembled and undergoing vibration testing at Dassault’s Mérignac plant in Bordeaux. First flight is planned for early 2015, leading to certification in the first quarter of 2016 and service entry later that year.
Dassault has already broken ground on a completions facility at its Little Rock, Arkansas site to accommodate the 8X and the all-new 5X.
Unveiled last year, the large-cabin, long-range 5X will be Dassault’s largest business aircraft – eclipsing even the 8X – with a fuselage diameter of 2.7m and a cabin height of 1.98m.
The twinjet also boasts a new wing – similar in size to the 7X’s – and a new digital flight control system, both developed in-house. The DFCS integrates all moving control surfaces for the first time. This includes a flaperon that enables steep approaches at slow speeds.
The 5X will feature the same new-generation EASy cockpit and head-up display as the 8X.
Unlike the 8X, the M0.8 aircraft will be powered by Snecma’s Silvercrest engine, marking the first time a Falcon has been launched with an all-new powerplant, or one produced by the French manufacturer. The aircraft boasts a maximum take-off weight of 31,500kg and a range with eight passengers of 5,200nm.
The first development aircraft has been assembled and is on target to make its first flight in the middle of next year, leading to certification and service entry in 2016 and 2017, respectively. Three development aircraft will be built and the first will be retained for future development work.
The 5X could ultimately be grown to provide Dassault with a competitor for the Bombardier Global 7000 and Gulfstream G650/ER, but the airframer says it has no plans to launch another programme until the next decade at the earliest.
The Savannah, Georgia-headquartered airframer dominates the top-end of the business jet sector, after doubling its family of large cabin and long-range aircraft this year with the launch of three new models.
May marked the unveiling of Gulfstream’s flagship, ultra-long-range G650ER. The twinjet - which received US certification earlier this month - is a longer-range version of the baseline G650, with the ability to fly 7,500nm with eight passengers. Gulfstream says its decision to launch the ER variant was due to customer demand for more range and capability. “While the G650 covers a huge numbers of city pairs with its 7,000nm range, there are always people who need to fly further,” it says.
To accommodate this extra range, the G650ER incorporates about 1,810kg of extra fuel compared with the G650. This has been added without the need to strengthen the airframe structure and landing-gear or increase engine thrust, the airframer says.
Take-off length is extended slightly by just over 134m to 1,920m, while maximum ramp and fuel weight are increased by 1,810kg to 47,000kg and 21,900kg, respectively.
Despite the extra mass, the G650ER will share the same ceiling and operating speeds of the G650, including its M0.85 normal cruise and M0.925 maximum cruise speeds.
With the exception of the minor adjustments, the G650ER is identical to its stablemate, which became Gulfstream’s most successful product introduction ever following its launch in 2010, and now boasts a three-year waiting list. Some G650 position holders have already switched to the more expensive ER variant, which will begin rolling off the production line later this year. For existing G650 owners, a $2 million ER retrofit is available throughout Gulfstream’s service centre network.
October marked the launch of two new clean sheet, large-cabin business jets. The G500 and G600 will be powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney Canada PW800 turbofans - breaking a 50-year relationship between Gulfstream and Rolls-Royce - and will feature Gulfstream's Honeywell Primus-Epic-based Symmetry flightdeck and fly-by-wire flight controls. The $43.5 million G500 is being developed first. Maiden flight is slated for next year, leading to US and European certification in 2017 and service entry in 2018. Flight testing of the G600 will begin between 12 and 18 months after the G500’s first flight. Entry-into-service for the $54.5 million aircraft is slated for 2019.
The airline manufacturer officially launched its line of Boeing Business Jets, based on its 737 Max, in April, following an order from an undisclosed existing BBJ owner.
The sale comes 18 years after Boeing and General Electric teamed up to develop the BBJ version of the 737. Unlike the initial BBJ, which was based on the 737-700, the first Max-based BBJ variant to be ordered is derived from the larger 737 Max 8, and is designed to succeed the current 737-800-based BBJ2. The BBJ Max 8 incorporates the aerodynamic and systems improvements of the standard Max, as well as the fuel efficient CFM International Leap-1B engines, providing a range of 6,330nm – around 800nm more than the standard BBJ’s.
Boeing is still studying plans for BBJ Max 7, based on the 737 Max 7, but the business case is not yet clear. The BBJ Max family will, however, include the larger BBJ Max 9, based on the 737 Max 9. The aircraft will have a range of 6,260nm.
The initial variant of the Max is due to enter flight tests in 2016, although the first BBJ version will not be delivered to a completion centre until 2018. The next available slot for a BBJ Max 8 is 2019.
Meanwhile, the first BBJ 747-8 is scheduled to roll out of the completion centre later this year. So too is the first 787 modified into a BBJ. Boeing says it has three BBJ 787s in completion and a fourth will be delivered later this decade.
This niche sector has been largely shielded from the downturn due to turboprops’ versatility and favourable operating costs in the face of high fuel prices. Perhaps not surprisingly models such as the Quest Kodiak, Cessna Caravan and Beechcraft King Air have fared better over the turbulent six years than traditional VIP/executive models such as the Piaggio Aero Avanti due to their appeal across a broader utility market. That said, the sector has enjoyed strong government demand, says Teal Group aerospace analyst Richard Aboulafia, “because customers continue to prefer cabin size over speed, as the VLJ segment shows”.
The past few months has seen the introduction of the TBM 900 – Daher-Socata’s latest iteration of the venerable TBM 700 – and over the proceeding two years a clutch of new and upgraded designs are set to enter this increasingly crowded market.
Epic Aircraft is planning to fly its E1000 single-engined turboprop before the end of the year, and will launch a major sales and marketing push for the aircraft at the NBAA Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition in October. The $2.75 million E1000 is a certificated, factory-built version of the $1.95 million Epic LT kit plane, the last of which is now being assembled at Epic’s Bend, Oregon facility, and will be handed over before the end of year.
While Epic is faced with some tough competition in this sector from established brands such as the Pilatus PC-12NG, TBM 900, Cessna Caravan and Piper Meridian, it is confident there is still space in this niche sector for a high-speed, low-cost aircraft like the E1000.
The growing orderbook for the Garmin G950-equipped aircraft proves his point. “Epic has sold 30 E1000s to date and its Russian distributor, Engineering LLC, has an order for 25 aircraft,” says Mike Schrader, Epic’s director of sales.
The Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-67A-powered E1000 has a projected maximum cruise speed of 325kt (601km/h), a range of 1,600nm (2,960km) and a ceiling of 34,000ft. Certification and service entry are scheduled for late next year.
After a nearly a decade spent scratching around for funding to bring its first twin-engined turboprop to market, Evektor has finally struck gold. In July, the Czech company secured a $200 million investment from Malaysian company Aspirasi Pertiwi, around $50 million of which will help to bring the EV-55 Outback to market by the end of 2016.
The 14-seater was launched in 2005 and bankrolled by Evektor from profits generated by its light sport aircraft range and other engineering projects. The Czech government has also supported the programme, and with all the funding raised so far has enabled the airframer to build an EV-55 prototype (MSN001), which made its maiden sortie in 2011. It has now logged around 180h to date and a production conforming aircraft is now being assembled in preparation for its first flight early next year.
Powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-21 engines, the EV-55 is Evektor’s first foray into the business and utility aircraft market. The manufacturer says its objective with the EV-55 is to replace the huge fleets of “obsolete” six- to nine-seat piston twins – including Cessna 402/404s – and be a “successful competitor” to the ubiquitous market-leading Beechcraft King Air and the single-engined Pilatus PC-12NG and Cessna Caravan.
Alan Klapmeier, founder and chief executive of the US start-up, is planning to bring on board a foreign investor that he hopes will put the Kestrel high-performance, single-engined turboprop on track for service entry in 32-36 months.
Kestrel – derived from the Farnborough Aircraft F1C3 prototype – would take advantage of new advances in carbonfibre airframe technology, which Klapmeier pioneered with the Cirrus SR20 and SR22 piston singles while at the helm of the Duluth-based airframer. The Honeywell TPE331-14GR-powered Kestrel has a projected range of 1,300nm and a maximum cruise speed of 320kt. The aircraft will also feature the Garmin G3000 avionics suite.
Having secured market approval for its first remanufactured aircraft – the 400XTi light business jet – Nextant has turned its attention to a second aircraft from the Hawker Beechcraft stable. Its revamped King Air G90XT made its first flight last month and Nextant is planning to certificate and deliver the modernised twin-engined turboprop next year.
The G90XT is the first of several King Air upgrade programmes planned by Nextant and its programme partner GE Aviation. This first model replaces the C90’s Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 turboprop engines with GE H80s – a modernised version of the Walter M601. Other upgrades include the addition of a Garmin G1000 flightdeck – unveiled in late July at the AirVenture show in Oshkosh – a new interior and a refresh of all life-limited components.
The Italian airframer launched the third-generation P180 Avanti in May, in an effort to breathe life back into the beleaguered twin-pusher programme. The EVO – short for Evolution – incorporates a host of improvements and upgrades over its Avanti II predecessor, which entered service nine years ago. These include a revamped and quieter interior, enhanced safety features and increased performance thanks to an auxiliary fuel tank, winglets, redesigned engine nacelles, a reshaped front wing and five-blade composite scimitar propellers, which combined with aerodynamic changes reduce external noise by 68%.
EVO flight testing began in February, and the test aircraft has so far clocked up more than 100h, says the Mubadala-owned company. Certification and service entry are on track for year-end.
Source: Flight International