BCA's Fred George Tests The Hawker 200
10:21 AM on May 18, 2011
The Hawker 200 Photo coutesy of Hawker Beechcraft
The new Hawker 200, the smallest ever Hawker, has sporty performance that is anything but a paradigm of British understatement. It’s an unabashedly American design, having the best thrust-to-weight ratio of any light jet in Business & Commercial Aviation’s May 2011 Purchase Planning Handbook.
However, it has nearly the same cabin cross-section as the midsize matron from Mother England with which it shares the family name. Just as importantly, it will be completed along side larger members of the current family at Hawker Beechcraft Corp.’s highly regarded Little Rock facility. That should reassure buyers that its interior fit, finish and features will live up to the highest midsize aircraft standards.
In early May we climbed aboard RD-1, the first production Hawker 200, for an exclusive one hour, 37 minute demo flight with experimental test pilot Peter Gracey. At present the aircraft has resumed its busy flight test schedule, so it will miss this year’s EBACE.
Prior to our strapping into the left seat, Gracey pointed out several modifications that were made to the Premier 1A to transform it into the Hawker 200. Aft ventral strakes improve lateral and pitch stability at high angles of attack, thus the inboard stall strips are removed from the wing leading-edges.
The aircraft has a new anti-skid brake computer and carbon wheel brakes. The engine nacelles are longer to accommodate the 30% more powerful engines. The engines have more efficient fans that create more thrust and less noise. The pylon fairings have been recontoured to reduce transonic drag rise. That’s essential as the Hawker 200 can speed along at 459 KTAS up to FL410 and 452 KTAS at FL430.
The carbon fiber skins of the fuselage are thicker for the greater pressurization loads of cruising 4,000 ft higher than its predecessor. The aluminum wings are reinforced to handle the increased bending loads of winglets, as well as a higher max takeoff weight. The forward and aft external baggage compartments have been upgraded to meet Part 23 commuter category requirements with smoke detectors and fire resistant interiors. A dozen systems have been upgraded to improve reliability.
Inside the cockpit, Gracey pointed out that Rockwell-Collins MultiScan weather radar and the firm’s new ADS-B compatible traffic surveillance system are standard, along with L3 TAWS. The Pro Line 21 avionics package features a standard wireless database loader, electronic charts and checklists. Link 2000 CPDLC for European operations is optional.
FADECs help the Williams FJ44-3AP engines start up to 200ºC cooler than the original -2A engines that had supervisory electronic controls. Pre-taxi procedures still take several minutes because many systems, including the fly-by-wire spoilers, need to be ground-checked by flight crews.
Gracey had ballasted and fueled the aircraft up to 13,890 lb., nearly matching its maximum ramp weight. Assuming a single pilot flight crew, production aircraft will be able to carry 930 lb. with full fuel compared with 320 lb. for the Premier 1A.
Based on Beech Field’s 1,408 ft. field elevation and 15ºC OAT, the takeoff field length was 4,250 ft. Quite clearly, the Hawker 200 will be able to operate out of shorter runways than the Premier 1A.
Taxiing out from the ramp, the action of the new carbon brakes was very smooth, progressive in response and absolutely silent. Mechanical nosewheel steering through the rudder pedals was crisp.
Cleared for takeoff on Runway 36, we pushed up the thrust levers to the forward stops. That pushed us back in the crew seats as though Hawker 200 were a 20-series Learjet, albeit one lacking the ear-splitting noise of twin CJ610s and their 2,000+ pph fuel thirst. At the aircraft’s 13,800 lb. MTOW, we quickly accelerated through the 110 KIAS V1 decision speed, rotated at 116 KIAS and sped through the 132 V2 takeoff safety speed before the gear had fully retracted. Clearing Beech Field’s Class D airspace, we settled into a 250 KIAS climb, transitioning to 0.64 Mach at about FL300.
Kansas City Center leveled us off briefly at FL350 and then we resumed a direct climb to FL450. We also had to turn a few times to clear other air traffic, thus our climb profile was less than optimum. OATs ranged from ISA+1ºC to ISA+6ºC during the climb.
Even so, we leveled off at FL450 22 minutes after takeoff, having burned 720 lb. since engine start. Once level, the aircraft, now at a weight of 13,230 lb., accelerated to 0.746 Mach in ISA+2ºC conditions, resulting in a true airspeed of 429 KTAS while burning 840 pph.
“Cheerio. Ta-ta!” the Hawker 200 seemed to be saying to its light jet competitors as it pulled away from virtually all others except for the diminutive SJ30-2. New engine mounts and better acoustical insulation will provide a quiet ride for passengers in production aircraft at maximum cruise speeds.
At FL450, we also checked Dutch Roll characteristics. We turned off the yaw damper, sideslipped and then released the controls. The aircraft settled into an easy yaw/roll coupled oscillation with almost neutral damping. After several cycles, we used a little rudder and aileron to stabilize the aircraft. We then re-engaged the yaw damper.
We also did a wind-up turn to check buffet margins. At a weight of 13,110 lb., we could bank up to 50º in a steady state turn before encountering light buffet at about 1.6G. So, Hawker 200 pilots routinely will be able to cruise at FL450 with safe controllability margins, even in turbulent air.
Down at FL330, we checked maximum cruise speed. At a weight of 13,000 lb., the aircraft had no problem accelerating to its 0.80 Mach redline in ISA+1ºC conditions, resulting in a 467 KTAS cruise speed. It would have flown much faster, had we not pulled back the thrust levers in respect of the Mmo limit.
We descended to 15,000 ft. to evaluate slow speed handling characteristics. Gracey cautioned us not to perform approaches to stalls because that part of the Hawker 200 flight envelope has not yet been fully explored during flight tests. However, we flew the aircraft down to 115 KIAS in the clean configuration and 110 KIAS with gear down and flaps 20º at a weight of 12,800 lb.
Roll response was excellent and the aircraft was fully controllable.
Back at Wichita Midcontinent Airport, we flew a WAAS LPV approach followed by an ILS at Beech Field. We then flew a series of touch-and-go landings, including a simulated one-engine-inoperative approach. Beech uses a right pattern when landing on Runway 36. From the left seat, there is good visibility out of the right side windows, making it easy to keep the runway end in sight while in the pattern.
The aircraft proved to be easy to fly, but compared to the Premier 1A, much less thrust is needed because of the Hawker 200’s 30% more powerful engines and the drag reduction benefit of the winglets. At 12,500 lb., just 100 lb. shy of max landing weight, Vref was 121 KIAS. We found that the aircraft will float in ground effect if thrust is not reduced to idle at 50 ft. AGL and if the aircraft is not allowed to decelerate below Vref prior to touchdown.
Pilots accustomed to flying the Premier 1A will appreciate the Hawker 200’s improvement in braking performance. The combination of the latest generation Meggitt anti-skid computer and high-capacity carbon brakes provides powerful stopping performance. We used light braking, but the initial response suggested that strong deceleration would have been available with a little more pedal pressure.
How does the $7.5-million Hawker 200 stack up with the competition? We’ll provide you with an in-depth report about the aircraft in an upcoming edition of Business & Commercial Aviation.
In brief, though, the mockup shows off its a new expanded four-chair center club grouping that provides more leg room for those passengers. It also will have a single side-facing seat in the left rear section of the cabin. The aft cabin bulkhead now is vertical, providing considerably more usable room in the lavatory. A belted potty seat is available.
HBC is betting that buyers will be attracted to the Hawker 200’s blend of legacy Learjet performance and traditional Hawker midsize cabin comfort, combined with excellent fuel efficiency and low operating costs.
The aircraft will have excellent hot-and-high airport performance and, on typical one- to two-hour missions, its block times will be quicker than any other light jet except for the SJ30-2. Its maximum range of 1,365 nm., however, remains a shortcoming. Premier 1A operators said they wanted more range, but the Hawker 200 doesn’t offer much improvement.
Others in this price class offer 1,600-2,000 nm. range with four passengers. HBC officials concede that point, but they ask potential customers, do their passengers really want to be confined in a smaller cabin for four to five hours at a stretch? —Fred George
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