RAYTHEON AIRCRAFT is a year away from launching the Premier II business jet, according to Art Wegner, the firm's chairman and chief executive.

"Clearly, we would like to stretch the Premier I and give it a modified wing and bigger thrust engines. It would probably be an eight-seat aircraft," he says. Although Raytheon Aircraft has performed preliminary work on the Premier II, no formal programme has been initiated. "We are about a year away from a launch decision," says Wegner, but he adds that "-it is really a question of when, not if".

In 1996, company officials had hinted that the Premier II might be unveiled at the September 1997 National Business Aircraft Association show in Dallas, Texas.

The aircraft would be an evolutionary growth version of the six-seat Premier I entry-level business jet now being developed by Raytheon and due to be delivered to the first customer in late 1998. An even larger Premier III has been discussed.

The Premier II is expected to be aimed at the market sector occupied at the bottom end by aircraft such as the company's six- to nine-seat Beechjet 400A, and at the top end by the widebody Cessna Citation Excel and Learjet 45.

The first flight of the Premier I, which is powered by two 10kN (2,300lb)-thrust Williams Rolls-Royce FJ44-2As, is due this year.

Source: Flight International