Nextant preparing for first quarter maiden flight of G90XT

Nextant Aerospace is preparing for the first flight of its revamped King Air G90XT this quarter, ahead of entry into service later in 2014.

The Cleveland, Ohio-based company says it has received “phenomenal interest” in the twin-engined turboprop – which will be offered in four versions – since the programme was launched in October 2013 in partnership with GE Aviation.

The aircraft is the first of several King Air upgrade programmes planned by the partners. Nextant hopes to emulate the success of its Hawker 400/XP business jet remanufacturing programme – the 400XTi – but on a vastly larger scale.

Describing the opportunity as “immense”, Nextant president Sean McGeough says there are over 7,000 King Airs in service worldwide, with the C90 variant, on which the G90XT is based, making up a significant proportion of that fleet. Flightglobal’s Ascend Online Fleets database records 1,412 C90-series King Airs in service at present.

The G90XT upgrade replaces the C90’s Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 turboprop engines with GE H80’s – a modernised version of the Walter M601. Other upgrades include the addition of a Garmin G1000 flightdeck, a new interior and a refresh of all life-limited components.

“We have identified two C90s on the open market that we could use as a flight-test aircraft. A decision will be made shortly then we will set about upgrading them,” says McGeough.

Nextant plans to launch a sales and marketing push for the G90XT at the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition in May. “We should have a clear idea by then what the aircraft’s performance parameters will be,” McGeough says. However, he plays down the chances of the aircraft being at the show as “we don’t want to lose precious testing time”, as Nextant pushes for certification and first delivery before year-end.

The G90XT will be priced at around $2.3 million for a “baseline” version and will be offered in at least four variants – VIP, high-density, medical evacuation and special mission. “Once the G90XT has entered service, we will review other programmes with GE. It’s too early to say what they might be,” McGeough says.

Meanwhile, Nextant delivered 13 400XT/i aircraft in 2013, and plans to double production this year to keep pace with demand for the modernised light-cabin aircraft.

It has received orders for 24 new XTis and has secured contracts with sister company Flight Options and US charter company TMC to convert 20 and 50 out-of-production 400A/XPs respectively into the XTi variant.

The $4.9 million updated twinjet features new Williams FJ44-3AP engines and Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics.

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