US manufacturer plans gradual introduction in effort to avoid service-entry problems

Raytheon Aircraft (RAC) plans to deliver only three Hawker Horizons next year, in a bid to avoid entry into service problems with its new super mid-size business jet.

"We will manage the ramp-up and introduction very differently to other aircraft," says Jim Schuster, RAC chief executive. Provisional certification and delivery of the first Horizon is expected this month, but the company will immediately lease the aircraft back for service-readiness testing.

Plans call for delivery of three Horizons in 2005, 11 in 2006, 16 in 2007 and 24 in 2008 with the planned full production rate of 30 a year being reached in 2009.

This contrasts will previous aircraft introductions, including RAC's Premier I light jet, where the production ramp-up began ahead of certification, necessitating a modification line to rework aircraft to the final configuration before delivery.

"Every other clean-sheet aircraft has had a troubled entry into service. We will not manage the Hawker Horizon that way," says Schuster. "A controlled, low-risk approach [to production ramp-up] will avoid the rework and modification costs and the customer angst with an immature aircraft."

With completion of Horizon development next year, RAC's focus will shift to product improvements and derivatives of its existing platforms, says Schuster. "This, and expanded participation by our partners and suppliers, will allow us to reduce our [research and development] from 3-4% [of sales] to 2% in 2006."

RAC plans to step up deliveries from 383 aircraft this year to 426 in 2005. The biggest increase - from 30 to 57 - is in production of the Hawker 400XP light jet.


Source: Flight International