Graham Warwick in Washington

Raytheon Aircraft has finally completed flight testing of the Hawker 4000, and is finalising documentation after being given additional time to complete US certification of its all-new super mid-size business jet.

The US Federal Aviation Administration’s five-year time limit for certification of a new Part 25 transport-category aircraft expired on 31 May, but has been extended, says the agency’s central region office.

Raytheon says it needed more time to complete function and reliability (F&R) flight-testing, the final step before full certification. The 150h of F&R testing required was interrupted when the FAA insisted the company install additional lightning-strike protection for electronic components in the composite fuselage, instead of waiting until after certification as it had planned. F&R testing was completed on 26 May.

When it was launched in 1996 as the Hawker Horizon, US certification was scheduled for 2001. The aircraft finally flew in August 2001, and provisional certification was received in December 2004. Bombardier’s competing Challenger 300 super mid-size jet, launched in 1999, also flew for the first time in August 2001, but was certificated less than two years later, in June 2003, and 75 are now in service.

The FAA says federal regulations put a time-limit from application to certification of five years for Part 25 aircraft and three years for Part 23 general aviation aircraft – unless the manufacturer “requests a longer period of time for development and testing”.

A manufacturer asking for an extension is “uncommon”, says the FAA, although it is not unprecedented. Sino Swearingen’s SJ30 light jet received Part 23 certification in December, nine years after its first flight and 15 years after its launch. Raytheon’s Premier I light jet, which pioneered the composite fuselage technology used in the Hawker 4000, took five years and three months from launch to Part 23 certification.

Raytheon has certificated several upgrades to existing jet, turboprop and piston aircraft while the Hawker 4000 effort has continued, and recent presentations to analysts indicate the company plans to launch two new aircraft – probably derivatives – this year. One is expected to be a superlight jet to fit between the light Hawker 400XP and mid-sized Hawker 850XP.

Source: Flight International