October 16, 2012
Nearly a year after receiving certification for the 400XT remanufactured Beechjet, Cleveland-based Nextant Aerospace is expanding facilities to ramp up production, working on the next series of product improvements for the 400XT and looking at adding a second airframe to its lineup.
Nextant, the sister company of fractional ownership provider Flight Options, is moving over the next couple of weeks into its recently acquired 125,000-sq.-ft. facility, where it hopes to begin production by the end of the month.
The facility, near the existing building that Nextant shares with Flight Options on Cuyahoga County Airport in Richmond Heights, Ohio, will more than double the company’s space and enable the manufacturer to increase production of the 400XT to up to 48 per year. Initial plans call for a gradual buildup of production to an eventual run rate of 36 per month.
While its builds up production on the 400XT, Nextant already has turned to the next addition to the product line, says Nextant CEO Kenn Ricci. The company has identified the airframe and the engines, and is negotiating with potential vendors on avionics. An announcement on that model could be made in the coming weeks, once its negotiations are completed.
One of the newest members of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Nextant announced it had received FAA certification for its first aircraft, the 400XT, in October 2011 and delivered the first of 40 it has on order from Flight Options later that same month.
Nextant, which began concentrating on marketing a year ago, claims orders for more than 70. With fleet orders, the company has production slots extending for five years – although there are a few openings next year, says Jay Heublein, who moved over from Flight Options in early 2011 to serve as Nextant’s vice president of sales and marketing.
Domestic sales have gone as expected, Heublein says, but “the single biggest surprise is how quickly the global sales picked up.” The company has taken orders from six different countries and delivered the first European-registered aircraft to a buyer in the Czech Republic in August. The company also obtained a 10-aircraft sale from Asia Pacific Jets last summer.
As production continues to grow, the company plans to increase its employee base – which now stands at 160 workers – by roughly 20% in the coming months.
About 10-15% of the workers are engineers, who have been working on upgrades, such as the addition of a winglet, which Nextant hopes to certify next year. Heublein says nearly all customers have opted for the winglet.