In addition, Nextant plans to roll out a brand new interior configuration at the National Business Aviation Association annual meeting and convention this month that will include a divan. The configuration opens the entryway and provides more legroom for the eight-passenger aircraft. LED light upgrades as well as future avionics options are also in the works.
Nextant’s 400XT is completely stripped down from the original Beechjet and remanufactured with Williams FJ44-3AP engines, Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 integrated avionics and a new cabin with electronics that include high-speed Internet access. Nextant builds in significant aerodynamic improvements, such as newly designed nacelles, pylons and an improved engine mounting configuration.
Its primary competition would be Hawker Beechcraft’s 400XPR, but that aircraft may still be months away from certification, giving Nextant an advantage of reaching market first. Like Nextant, Hawker Beechcraft is replacing the Beechjet’s Pratt & Whitney JT15D-5R engines with a Williams powerplant, but is opting for the FJ44-4A-32. Hawker Beechcraft also selected Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics for the 400XPR and a winglet.
While the programs have their similarities, Nextant executives would argue that Nextant views itself as being in the manufacturing business rather than as an upgrade program, Heublein says.
Nextant takes a holistic approach to manufacturing – from product support, warranty, financing and training – rather than conducting simple upgrades that it then sells to customers. Nextant worked with CAE SimuFlite in Dallas to develop a trainer that would enable pilots to obtain a 400XT type rating directly. This eliminates the need for pilots to obtain a Beechjet 400 type rating and then undergo different training for the Nextant 400 XT.
In addition, Nextant has built up a product support network, with seven facilities as authorized service providers. These include both in-house maintainers and third-party facilities.
“We provide a complete production solution,” Heublein says, adding this comes from learning lessons from past upgrade programs. “The model for modifications didn’t work,” he says, because owners often would end up with orphan aircraft that don’t have support.
And unlike most upgrade programs, which involve improving a customer’s own aircraft, Nextant is finding Beechjets on the market, remanufacturing them and then selling them to customers.
He says Nextant has sold a few customer upgrades, but, “Our focus is to buy the aircraft. The majority of sales are to concept buyers.”
Its affiliation with Flight Options – previously one of the largest Beechjet operators – has given it a stable of Beechjets to work on, but Heublein says Nextant has been able to find plenty on the market. He notes that some 600 of the aircraft were produced, providing enough opportunity for the program. In fact, older model aircraft have been available at much lower prices since Nextant’s 400XT has begun entering the market, he says.