Having taken up the torch for the time honoured art of remanufacturing, with a seat on the Board of the Remanufacturing Industries Council, Nextant Aerospace has increased its global reach with a new China partnership. As Nextant President and CEO Sean McGeough explains, the company has just signed a deal with STAECO (Beijing) Business Jet Maintenance that will see STAECO become Nextant’s first authorised service centre in the Greater China region.
The maintenance deal with STAECO complements the appointment of AVIC International Aero-Development Corporation, back in April this year, as Nextant’s exclusive sales representative for China. “We are very pleased to have AVIC on board. They are a multi-conglomerate company, with interests in training, manufacturing, chartering and FBOs. AVIC ADE is a subsidiary of AVIC (the Aviation Industry Corporation of China) which is China’s largest aviation company and is one of the main channels for the import and export of civil aviation products in China. It is a tremendous endorsement for Nextant and for our remanufacturing focus, to have AVIC come on board,” McGeough comments. As part of the agreement, AVIC ADE expects to take delivery of its first 400XTi in the first quarter of 2015.
McGeough points out that while Nextant might be trail blazers in applying remanufacturing to light jets, aerospace remanufacturing is a $15 billion per year industry. “There is already a very strong market in aerospace. Many airlines including Lufthansa and KLM, remanufacture their own components to a higher standard than their original condition; they do this to keep costs down, enhance reliability and comply with various safety regulations.In heavy plant, Caterpillar initially resisted the idea of remanufacturing, then trialled it and remanufacturing is now big business for them.
Nextant’s second remanufacturing project, based on remanufacturing Beechcraft C90 turboprop aircraft, is now getting underway. Part of the remanufacturing will see Nextant replacing the C90-series Pratt & Whitney PT6 turboprop engines with the GE H75 series engine, a modernised version of the venerable Walter M601. (We have a separate interview with GE’s Brad Mottier in this issue, with more detail on the GE H-series, see page: 36). At the time of going to press, the remanufactured aircraft, known as the G90XT was scheduled to take its first flight with the GE H75-100 engine within weeks.
Nextant acquired an existing STC from GE for this project and is updating the STC to incorporate new avionics from Garmin for the aircraft. It is also in the process of making some adjustments to the cowling that McGeough reckons will make it a much better aircraft. On the replacement of the venerable PT6, he points out that there are a number of features about the H75-100 that make it a much more desirable and pilot friendly engine. “The PT6 is a tried and trusted workhorse, but the fact that the H75-100 has a single power lever that syncs the propeller to the engine is a huge plus. On top of this, because there are no fuel injectors since the H75-100 uses a spray hose a the top of the chamber that distributes fuel evenly through the chamber, there are no hot spots that need to be monitored from a maintenance standpoint.
The G90XT was developed with the pilot in mind. The cockpit was ergonomically designed for single pilot operations. A new fuel gauge integrates with the Garmin G1000 flight deck and the fuel transfer gauges were moved to the center consul to be within the pilot’s field of vision. The turboprop comes with autostart as standard, and a limiting unit for ground operations, along with linear throttle response. “The whole package makes this a much more pilot friendly engine and aircraft,” McGeough says. The maintenance interval is 4000 hours, and there is no danger of over-temping the engine since there is an automatic overtemp shut down, he notes. “These are some of many examples of safety and workload improvements suggested by pilots and customers and incorporated into the Nextant G90XT.”
With over 50 Nextant 400XTi’s due for deliver by the end of 2014 the light jets segment is proving very lively for Nextant. “We have deliberately focused on entry level business aircraft. We could have selected a larger platform as our next model, but we believe that it is important for the industry to grow the light jet segment as the recovery sets in. Nextant’s value proposition is ideal for customers buying their first business aircraft. Our aim is to build a solid base of customers who love the 400XTi and the G90XT and they will be great candidates to migrate to bigger aircraft when we decide to bring a larger remanufactured aircraft to market down the road,” he comments.