A Private Jet Maker Is Thriving By Making Old Planes New Again
Designing a new airplane is an incredibly expensive, complicated, and long process, one that can prove wasteful if not executed properly — as Boeing's troubled Dreamliner jet has proven in recent months.
In 2007, looking to avoid the costs and pitfalls that come with new aircraft, aviation entrepreneur Kenn Ricci created a business that would sell small jets for half of what they usually cost, thanks to a simple change.
Instead of building new jets, Nextant Aerospace would take old jets, refurbish them, and sell them for 50 cents on the dollar.
The result, President Sean McGeough says, gives you "everything a new aircraft gives you." Unless a buyer is dead set on having a 100 percent new plane, he seems right. That's because Nextant retains the hull of the plane, then replaces just about everything else.
So far, Nextant has produced one model, the 400XT, based on the Hawker 400. The huge cost of designing a plane from scratch does not have to be recouped, so the price of the planes stays low.
In refurbishing a jet, the airframe is kept, while the avionics and any life-limited components, along with the interior, are replaced. From start to finish it takes about 6,000 man hours of work, around 16 weeks.
Before re-entering service, the jets go through the same certification process and flight testing as any new plane. The end result, McGeough says, is a "virtually new" airplane.