China’s CAAC certificates Nextant 400XTi


The Civil Aviation Administration Authority of China (CAAC) has granted a supplemental type certificate (STC) to Nextant Aerospace for its Nextant 400XTi private jet.

With the STC, Nextant can now begin delivering aircraft to Chinese owners who want to register their aircraft on the local B- register.

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The speed at which the STC was issued seems to have caught Nextant slightly off guard, with the Cincinnati, Ohio-based company saying it will be ready to deliver the first Chinese aircraft during the first quarter of 2015.

“The rapid acceptance by both Chinese customers and regulators speaks to the global appeal of Nextant remanufacturing,” said Sean McGeough, president and CEO of Nextant Aerospace. “The ability to quickly design, build and certify an aircraft that delivers like-new performance for half the cost allows Chinese customers to leverage the business benefits of the latest business jet technology and a 3,700 km (2,000 nm) range in a fiscally prudent manner.”

In April 2013, Nextant announced it had appointed China Great Wall Industry Corp as exclusive sales agents for the greater China area.

The agreement, signed at the ABACE conference in Shanghai, also included an order for three firm and 15 options for the 400XTis predecessor, the 400XT, which could have been worth a combined $89 million.

However, Nextant appears to have changed track, and early in 2014 appointed AVIC ADE as the exclusive distributor to greater China, an area that not only includes the Chinese mainland, but also Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.

Asia is the spiritual home of the Nextant 400XTi, with the Hawker 400 frame that the Nextant is based on originally starting its life in Japan as the Mitsubishi MU-300 Diamond.

Following a production run in Japan of 92 Diamond 1/1As, Beechcraft purchased the manufacturing rights and moved the manufacturing process to its home in Wichita, where it built a further 54 Diamond 1As under the BeechJet 400 name.

With the Beechjet 400 certificated by the FAA in 1986, it wasn’t until 1990 that Beechcraft introduced the model 400’s successor, with the 400A offering greater range, higher maximum take-off weight and an all-glass cockpit than the original 400.

A further ownership change occurred in 1993 when Raytheon purchased the Hawker line of business jets from its then owner British Aerospace, with the BeechJet 400A eventually being renamed as the Hawker 400 to move it into line with the rest of the Hawker product line-up.

Eventually, 603 aircraft were built, including the upgraded Hawker 400XP that borrowed technology and aerodynamic improvements from Hawker’s other twn-engined private jet, the Hawker 850XP.

A further upgrade to the program, the Hawker 450XP was announced by Beechcraft in October 2008, but was later cancelled in June 2009 due to lack of interest.

Nextant first announced it intentions to re-manufacture the older Hawker aircraft in 2007, with the company being formed by Kenn Ricci. Ricci, Nextant’s CEO, also serves as the chairman of Flight Options, one of the largest Hawker 400XP operators in the world.

The re-manufacturing process involves Nextant completely re-build an older Hawker aircraft, replacing and renewing many of its parts, in a process that Nextant claims makes the aircraft 88 per cent new.

The 6,000 hour make-over also includes changing the original Hawker’s Pratt & Whitney engines with a pair of Williams FJ44s to give the Nextant increased range over the Hawker aircraft.

Nextant later announced an upgrade to the original 400XT model, with the 400XTi (the ‘I’ stands for innovation) first making its public appearance at EBACE 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The major innovations in the 400XTi revolved around the cabin, where Nextant engineers were able to work around ‘dead areas’ in the aircraft’s design, allowing for a more comfortable passenger experience.

Nextant’s own ‘sharks-fin’ winglets are also added, which Nextant says could give an additional 3-7 per cent fuel savings on longer flights.

There are currently only three older Hawker aircraft flying in Greater China, with single aircraft operating in on the Chinese mainland, and a further pair operating from Taiwan.