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Pilot Report: Hawker 900XP gives pilots more range

by AIN Staf
- February 8, 2008, 4:33 AM

What can you say about an airplane that performs better than most people expect, as
the Hawker series always has? The old Hawker 800A I flew was easy to flight plan for the
most part. Fill the tanks with fuel, fill the seats and go from almost any airport with a
reasonable runway length.
It almost never grounded us, most likely because the systems were so tried and true
and so relatively simplethat there was not much that could break. Almost all systems,
such as flight controls, were mechanically linked. With 10,000 pounds of fuel on board we
could easily make the West Coast from Chicagoland, and, even with all seats filled, that
big midsize cabin was comfortable. The newest version of the airplane the Hawker
900XPis still considered to be a bargain at $14.3 million.
The famous 125 series has been in continuous production since the first de Havilland
DH.125 took to the air in 1962. In the ensuing 45 years, nearly 1,500 aircraft have been
produced. Theyve gone by various namesthe de Havilland 125 (DH.125),
the Hawker Siddeley 125 (HS.125), the Beech Hawker jet (BH-125) and finally just the
Hawker. Now that Raytheon has sold the company to the new Hawker Beechcraft, the
type rating for all Hawker pilots still says HS-125.
Hawkers arrive in the U.S. essentially as kits. The fuselage and wings are built in the UK,
while final assembly takes place in Wichita. All 900XPs are completed at Hawker
Beechcrafts Little Rock, Ark. facilities.
While they are among the roomiest of midsize jets, Hawkers take their time going
anywhere. On its best days, the Hawker 800 was a Mach 0.80 aircraft. On long trips it
was even slower. With the old TFE731-5R-1H engines, it could seldom climb above
35,000 feet right off the ground when heavy; that number was reduced to 33,000 when
the temperatures were high. Overall, when the time needed to stop for fuel and climb
back to altitude is figured into the equation, the Hawker is still an efficient, comfortable
airplane.
I had a chance to fly one of Hawkers demo aircraftN903XPto verify the performance
claims for the new, more powerful engines, winglets and a new avionics suite the
company added to squeeze every ounce of performance possible out of the airplane.
Even with the new engines and airfoil updates, dont hold your breath for it to go any
faster. It wont. Typical cruise speeds in long-range mode will press the 900XP along at
about 400 ktas and about 446 ktas in high-speed mode.

And if you were thinking any of those old mechanical control linkages would evaporate,
forget that too. In fact, the simplicity of the airplanes systems is one of the reasons the
Hawkers are still affectionately called an old mans airplane.
Specific range on the 900XP is up about 4 percent over that of the 850XP, the 900s
immediate predecessor. Higher temperature limits on the new TFE731-50R engines
Honeywell designed specifically for the Hawker mean the 900XP can climb to altitude
much faster than previous models and will now reach 41,000 feet right off the ground,
resulting in more miserly fuel burns earlier in the flight. Most of the time the airplane can
fly from New York to the West Coast nonstop. The time between overhauls has also
increasedsignificantlymeaning lower direct operating costs.
Boosting Performance of an Established Model
An advantage to working with a proven airframe is that upgrades take much less time to
bring to fruition. The Hawker 900XP went from first flight to first delivery in 13 months.
While the new engines on the 900XP are rated at the same amount of thrust4,660
poundsthe -50R is slightly smaller and somewhat lighter than its predecessor and flat
rated at 5,000 pounds, which explains the higher temperature limits.
At 5,000 feet, the old engine would be producing 3,800 pounds of thrust, while the new
engine develops about 5 percent more at 3,970 pounds. This also represents nearly a 10percent increase in overall thrust from the original Hawker 800A, which produced only
4,300 pounds at takeoff. The -50R also complies with Stage 4 noise limits. The aircraft
warranty on the 900XP stands at 2,000 hours, up from the 1,800 hours of the 850XP. The
APU is guaranteed for 2,500 hours.
Maximum takeoff weight of the Hawker 900XP is almost 800 pounds heavier than that of
the 800A I used to fly. Takeoff weights are the same on the 900XP and the 850XP it
directly replaces. The basic operating weight differs only slightly between the two, with
the 900XP weighing in about 90 pounds heavier than the 850XP. In long-range cruise,
operators can expect to see range increase by 8.6 percent over the 850XP. For operators
of older Hawker 800s this will really seem like a gift because 2,200 nm was pushing the
capabilities of that airplane most days.
Hot-and-high runway performance has increased dramatically on the 900XP as well.
Depart Aspen on an ISA +20 degree C day where the older 850XP was second-segment
limited and the 900XP requires 1,800 feet less runway to carry six passengers 2,000 nm.
When the Hawkers longer-range legs are needed, departing Aspen under the same
conditions will carry the same load nearly 2,400 nm. From Teterboro, Shannon is
guaranteed 99 percent of the time, as is Seattle.
Out of Aspen on an 82 degree F day, youll make Boston nonstop with six passengers.
Not challenging enough? How about departing Toluca, Mexico8,466 feet mslfor
Teterboro nonstop with six people when its 86 degrees F outside, or London City to

Riyadh? Still not enough? The Hawker 900XP is not field-length-limited on even a 93
degree F day when departing an airport at 5,000-foot pressure altitude.
Hawker Beechcraft said the 900XP burns 5 percent less fuel than the 850XP and costs 10
percent less in hourly engine maintenance reserves, for a total direct operating cost
difference of 5 percent. That translates into 6 percent less in cost per nautical mile when
expressed in U.S. dollars.
The 900XP seats eight and includes provisions for a belted lavatory seat. The aircraft still
uses the same 33-cu-ft forward baggage storage area that has made first officers groan
for decades as they haul passenger bags up the forward stairs before takeoff. In the rear,
theres room for more hanging baggage in a closet that adds 16.5 cu ft of space. The
900XP offers an optional six-place seating arrangement that reorganizes the rear cabin
baggage space to add 10 cu ft of space. The cabin now employs new individual LCD
screen control systems for lights, video and audio at each seat. An LCD-controlled cabin
thermostat is positioned next to the bosss chair on the right side of the cabin.
Pilots used to older Hawkers will find the same cockpit they remember, except that the
old round dials have been replaced with four 8- by 10-inch LCD panels and dual FMS6000 units that make taking the 900XP across the water much more comforting. The
Collins Pro Line 21 system on N903XP uses a dual file server and dual cursor control
panels that allow either pilot to pull up any approach or taxi charts in the electronic flight
bag database with zoom capability on either display. There is no EICAS on the 900XP; the
airplane has the warning light panel installed on the original Hawker 800.
The winglets, which first adorned the Hawker line on the 850XP, add about three feet of
wingspan and stand 30 inches tall. The position lights on the 900XP are dual LED format
now, with a 5,000-hour mean time between failures. While pre- or post-flighting a
Hawker, remember never to stand too close to the leading edge of the wing. The TKS
fluid used for leading-edge de-icing will destroy any clothing it touches. At the advanced
years of the Hawker, the chances of the aircraft ever using any other kind of anti-ice
system are probably slim to none, so keep that jug of TKS fluid nearby when you travel.
Hawker 900XP Performance
I recently flew the 900XP on a 544-nm trip from Atlanta to Chicago Executive Airport. I
kept a log during the climb to altitude since this trip would allow little more than enough
time to gauge performance. Entering the cockpit at Charlie Brown Airport was a bit like
seeing an old friend, albeit one that had had a nip and tuck over the years, all of which
had improved the overall look.
The flight plan for N903XP included a light fuel load, but six passengers and baggage in
the rear in addition to myself and Hawker demonstration pilot Mark Mills. Basic operating
weight on the aircraft was 16,355 pounds. With 1,200 pounds of payload, including 200
pounds of bags and 6,070 pounds of fuel, wed weigh in well under the aircrafts 28,000pound max weight at 23,555 pounds.

Weather in Atlanta and all along the route was forecast to be VMC with steadily
increasing wind on the nose as we climbed to FL400. The Charlie Brown ATIS reported
the wind 320 at 7 knots and an OAT of 14 degrees C. The newer Pro Line 21 units
installed on delivery aircraft will include the software to calculate and automatically
display takeoff numbers. The flight would use numbers pulled from the Quick Reference
Handbook. They would show a V1 of 113 knots, Vr 120 knots and V2 of 131 knots. The
book also claimed wed need 4,300 feet of the 5,796-foot Runway 8/26.
On boot up, the captains FMS refused to remember the data stored on board
and simply went blank a few times. We rebooted the avionics, and after a few minutes
the data returned. The EFB capabilities of the Pro Line 21 would have made taxi out a
snap during IFR weather thanks to the availability of airport diagrams and SID
information.
At takeoff, I pushed the throttles forward to the stops. Although the Honeywell engines
are controlled electronically, the only way to adjust power after takeoff is to tweak the
throttles until the max continuous thrust light illuminates. The aircraft used no more
than 3,000 feet during the ground roll before we left the runway. With the gear in the
wells, I let the aircraft accelerate to 200 knots since we were still beneath the Atlanta
Class B airspace.
Another nice improvement on the 900XP is that the APU is certified for use on takeoff to
maintain cabin pressure. Previous Hawkers required the APU and the bleeds to be off for
takeoff as well. After liftoff, there was always an annoying pressure bump when the
bleeds were turned back on, especially if the right-seat pilot was a little late hitting the
switches.
ATC cleared us to continue our climb with only a few restrictions all the way
to FL400. During the takeoff and climb, the Hawker 900XP felt no different in handling
from the old 800. But it certainly climbed much better than the 800 ever could. Thirteen
minutes after takeoff we were passing through FL290. Twenty-two minutes after liftoff,
N903XP leveled at FL400 and began accelerating through Mach 0.71.
It took another four minutes of level flight to accelerate to the maximum speed wed see
on this trip, Mach 0.776. The fuel flows settled in at 1,440 pounds per hour total and the
flight took one hour and 34 minutes from engine start to shutdown in Chicago. During
the flight, the 900XP burned 2,730 pounds of fuel and we landed with 3,340 pounds still
in the tanks, or almost enough to make a return VFR flight to Atlanta.
Certainly the upgrades make the Hawker 900XP a worthy successor to the long line of
125s. The airplanes eagerness to reach FL410 after takeoff alone could make it worth
the price for operators with passengers tired of spending more than their fair share of
time bouncing around in the 30s.

Despite the continued development of other midsize cabin rivals, few airplanes can
compete directly with the 900XP on cabin comfort and load carrying versus price and
overall performance. But the future of the Hawker midsize cabin line past the 900XP
must surely have the people in Wichita burning the midnight oil right now.