Private jets epitomize luxury for being convenient and, most importantly, supremely expensive. But Nextant Aerospace in Cleveland, Ohio has cut the cost of a small jet in half with the Nextant 400XT. Instead of starting from scratch, the company takes an inefficient jet and upcycles it into something new, thus creating the world's first remanufactured airplane.
Developing new aircraft is itself an expensive, high-risk endeavor, and Nextant Aerospace realized that the solution for a quieted business aviation industry might not lie in brand new solutions. Rather than upgrade existing components of the aircraft, Nextant Aerospace spent three years creating a new plane from the popular Hawker Beechjet 400A/XP and began delivery of the Nextant 400XT in 2011. Originally the Mitsubishi Diamond (1978), the plane became the Beechcraft Jet or Beechjet 400 before Hawker bought the company. There are more than 700 of the small business jet around the world, but the hugely popular Beechjet 400 has a short range, chows fuel and is not as attractive to operators or passengers as those with the updated technology that comes in newer jets.
The small jet market—which is classified by aircraft with capacity for 4-9 passengers maximum—is a busy segment for the industry, with models typically costing between $7-$11 million for a new aircraft. Families, small businesses and fractional jet membership programs like NetJets and Flight Options operate a variety of small business jets, including fleets of the Beechjet 400.
Nextant Aerospace has been buying up old Beechjet 400s and overhauling fleets, including Cleveland-based Flight Options', tearing apart the planes to replace everything onboard that is life-limited. Engineers at Nextant set out to almost double the aircraft's range (2300nm), by redesigning parts to fit and certify a newer, more-efficient engine, and installing a glass cockpit. Every little detail has to be FAA-certified, including the fresh furniture in the new interior. Essentially, when the Nextant Aerospace 400XT rolls out of the hangar in Cleveland, it is a new aircraft.
Deliveries have been made all over the world and at $4-$4.7 million, the upcycled planes run around half the cost of their competitors. The Nextant 400XT comes with new warranties and training for a minimum crew of two and a mechanic. With only so many Beechjets in the world to remanufacture, it will be interesting to see what Nextant Aerospace targets to redesign next. Keep an eye on the Nextant Aerospace website to see which other high-tech gadgets they may tackle in the future.