Nextant Aerospace is preparing to roll out its 400Next aircraft demonstrator by the end of the first quarter.

The light business jet will incorporate the first tranche of improvements in this Hawker 400A/XP conversion programme. These include the Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 cockpit upgrade, Venue cabin management system and the reconfigured and revamped cabin.

Later models will be powered by the new Williams International FJ44-3AP engines - replacing the legacy aircraft's Pratt & Whitney Canada JT15D powerplants - and will include aerodynamic enhancements including nacelles, pylons and an improved engine mounting configuration.

"We are planning to deliver the first customer aircraft by the end of the second quarter," says Nextant president Jim Miller. "The first six aircraft will be delivered with the original Pratt engines, but customers have the option of upgrading to the Williams FJ44s at a later date."

Miller says flight-testing of the Williams-powered 400Next is set to begin in June. The programme will involve around 300-500 flying hours, leading to certification and first deliveries in the first and second quarter of 2011.

Nextant has six orders to date for 400Next and expects to attract new business when the demonstrator is unveiled. "The case for this aircraft is compelling," Miller says. "The Williams engines boost the 400's range from around 2,400km [1,300nm] to 3,700km. Its $3.9 million price tag is far less than other light-jet category defining aircraft such as the [$7 million] Embraer Phenom 300 and the [$9 million] Cessna CJ4."

Nextant is offering two packages - a $390,000 Pro Line 21 avionics cockpit upgrade with the existing JT15D engines and the full upgrade. "Now is the time to buy as the cost of used aircraft is low. The $3.9 million price is based on the 1999 model year and it is only matter of time before the market starts to grow and the prices go up."

Miller says there are around 600 400A/XPs, of which about a quarter are for sale. "We have either acquired or have options on more than 10 of these," he says.

Source: Flight International