The quintessential modern aircraft, the Nextant 400XTi is one of the most popular very light business jets on the market.
Built by Nextant Aerospace, a part of the Directional Aviation group of companies, a brand new Nextant 400XTi costs between $4 and $4.95 million new or $1.95-$3 million used. It has a max cruise speed of 460 knots or an economical cruise of 409 KTAS. Its two FJ44-3AP engines burn 145 gph.
As an experienced avgeek and pilot, I’ve long admired Nextant Aerospace, Directional Aviation, its chief executive Kenn C. Ricci, and the Nextant 400XT/XTi family as a whole. It’s also the jet I fly the most.
The Nextant 400XTi is a twin engine, low wing business jet built for the Light Jet (LJ) market by Nextant Aerospace, the aircraft remanufacturing company owned by Kenn Ricci’s Directional Aviation Capital and headed by Randy Znamenak.
The notion of aircraft remanufacturing is rather simple: take an old aircraft, strip it down, rebuild it with new engines and multiple aerodynamic enhancements to make it new once again. To that end, the design of the Nextant 400 series is based on that of the Beechcraft Beechjet 400A/XP (also known as the Hawker 400A/XP).
Like its cheaper cousin, the Nextant 400XT, the 400XTi features an updated interior fit for the modern age, all-new avionics systems designed to reduce pilot workload and updated engines to improve fuel efficiency, cruise speed and range. Similarly, both aircrafts’ engines are controlled by a full authority digital engine control (FADEC) system.
Nextant claims the remanufacturing process gives (potential) customers a near-new aircraft for half the cost.
Developed in tandem with the standard Nextant 400XT, the 400XTi received further airframe enhancements (principally in the form of a newly designed engine beam) to make it more fuel efficient, more usable space in the cabin and better noise insulation. Similarly, its full authority digital engine controls were enhanced to improve operational reliability.
Visually, you can tell the 400XT and XTi apart thanks to two visible differences: the 400XTi has raked winglets whilst the 400XT does not, and the 400XTi has distinctive LED lighting, which are considerably brighter than the lights on the standard 400XT.
Development of the Nextant 400XT/XTi began in 2007 and the aircraft was unveiled to the world in 2009. It performed its first test flight in March 2010 and received a supplemental type certificate (STC) from the FAA in October 2011. Initial deliveries to launch customer Flight Options (also owned by Directional Aviation) began that month.
As the Nextant 400XT family (which includes the Nextant 400XTi) is perhaps the most unique aircraft in aviation history on account of how it is made, some consider the Nextant 400 to be just another variant of the Beechjet 400 family whilst others (including the FAA in the Aircraft Bluebook) consider it to be a new aircraft type.
What Are The Specifications of The Nextant 400XTi?
How Fast is The Nextant 400XTi?
One of the main selling points of the 400XTi put forward by Nextant is its speed. Indeed, they claim it has a max cruise speed of 460 knots, which makes it the fastest jet in its category and one of the fastest business jets in our skies overall.
However, most operators report a more accurate max cruise speed for the Nextant 400XTi to be 447 knots (828 km/h; 514 mph), which, though slower, still retains its place as the fastest light jet and one of the fastest business aviation aircraft in our skies.
Regardless of which max cruise speed is being used, flying at this sheer speed comes at the expense of range. To maximize the Nextant 400XTi’s range, flight crews can opt to reduce cruise speed to a more economical 409 knot (True Airspeed). To get the most range out of the aircraft, Nextant recommends flying with four passengers plus luggage.
With full flaps, it retains the 92 kn (171 km/h; 106 mph) stall speed of the Beechcraft Beechjet 400, which is only slightly worse than the 87 knot stall speed of the Phenom 300E.
How Much Fuel Does The Nextant 400XTi Burn?
When flown at its Nextant-claimed max cruise speed of 460 knots, the Nextant 400XTi has a burn rate of approximately 145 gallons per hour (gph). This is a significantly reduced fuel burn when compared to the 183 gph burn rate of the Phenom 300E.
However, as mentioned earlier, operators tend not to fly their aircraft at its max cruise speed in an effort to extend range as much as possible. As it is flying slower, the rate of fuel flowing into the engines is less, meaning that the Nextant 400 XTi has a burn rate of 137 gph when flown at 409 knots.
As with most aircraft, burn rate for the Nextant 400 XTi is highest in the first hour of flight, mostly due to the vast amounts of fuel the aircraft must consume during takeoff as it gets to its cruise altitude. First hour burn sits at 1200 pounds.
Second and third hour fuel burns decrease from there - being at 900 pounds in the second hour and 800 pounds in the third.
To put this in perspective, the burn rate for the Beechcraft Beechjet on which the Nextant 400XTi is based is a comparatively higher 191 gallons per hour, meaning the Nextant represents over a 24% fuel cost saving for potential operators or customers.
How Much Does The Nextant 400 XTi Cost?
No matter how big or small an aircraft is, its cost is at the forefront of any potential operator’s mind.
Still in production, potential operators have two options when it comes to acquiring it: buying it new or buying it used. According to Nextant, a brand new 400XTi has a flyaway cost of $4.95 million when fully equipped. That being said, a more standard 400XTi costs around $4.25 million.
In some cases, such as a large order, the Nextant 400XTi can cost around $4 million brand new, as was the case when Nextant signed a deal with Flight Options for 50 400XTis at a deal valued a little more than $200 million ($200 million/50 aircraft = $4 million per aircraft).
(It must be noted, however, that both companies are owned by Kenn Ricci’s Directional Aviation, which may have influenced the deal’s price in some regard.)
By contrast, its nearest competitor, the Brazilian-built Embraer Phenom 300E, costs approximately $10.5 million new, meaning even fully equipped, you could buy two 400XTis for the price of one Phenom 300.
On the secondary market, the price of the 400XTi is a very different story. Based on current data acquired from sites like Trade-a-Plane, Controller and AvBuyer, as well as historical data from GlobalPlaneSearch.com, the price of a used Nextant 400 XTI varies from $1.95 million to $3 million.
This range in price is down to factors such as age, the condition of the interior and the time to overhaul, as well as other things like the number of cycles on the landing gear and damage history (if applicable).
But acquisition costs are only part of the answer to the question of how much the Nextant 400XTi costs; operating costs help answer the rest.
Operational costs can be broken down into two sections - fixed and variable costs. Fixed costs, for example insurance, crew salaries and hangar fees, remain there no matter if you use the aircraft or not, whilst variable costs, such as fuel, increase the more you use the aircraft.
Based on the most recent data, the fixed costs for the 400 XTi stand at $364,196, considerably less than the $450,000 of the Phenom 300E. Assuming you were to fly 450 hours per year (a relatively low number if used by a particularly large operator like a charter operator or multinational corporation) in the 400XTi, this equates to a little more than $809 per hour.
Continuing our assumption of 450 flight hours per year, variable costs - mostly of fuel at $7 per gallon (the rate I paid most recently at my local airfield) - stands at $839,700. Per hour, this works out at $1,866. By contrast, variable costs for the Phenom 300E stand at $980,550 or $2,179 per hour.
In total, the hourly operating cost for the Nextant 400XTi stands at $2,635, whilst the Phenom 300E is considerably more expensive at $3,180 per hour. Naturally, if flight hours were to be increased, or operators were to fly the aircraft themselves rather than hiring a crew, the Nextant 400XTi would have significantly lower operating costs.
How High Does The Nextant 400 XTi Fly?
Like many other business jets, the Nextant 400XTi flies higher than your average commercial airliner. According to its pilot operating handbook (POH), the Nextant 400 XTi has a service ceiling of 45,000 ft, or 13,716 m - the common service ceiling across most private jets.
When flying at its max cruise speed, the POH recommends pilots fly at FL430 (43,000 ft or 13,106 m), as this minimizes how much fuel the Nextant burns during climb and maximizes the amount of fuel it can burn during cruise flight.
Similarly, when flying at its economical cruise speed, the POH recommends pilots fly at FL450, where the air is thinner, to help extend the aircraft’s range.
With a climb rate of 2,312.5 fpm (11.75 m/s) with both engines, it takes 16 minutes for the Nextant 400XTi to reach FL370 (37,000 ft).
Should one of its two engines be rendered inoperative during flight, the POH recommends pilots reduce the jet’s altitude to 29,000 ft, or roughly 8,839 m. This enables it to fly in the most fuel efficient manner given its now-reduced thrust. For comparison, this is roughly the same altitude a commercial twin turboprop airliner would fly at.
By contrast, the Beechcraft Beechjet 400 has a service ceiling of 45,000 ft just like the Nextant 400 XTi, but only has a economical cruise altitude of 37,000 ft (11,277 m), perhaps helping to account for the Nextant’s increased range, speed and lower burn rate.
How Far Does The Nextant 400 XTi Fly?
With four passengers and following instrument flight rules (IFR), the Nextant 400XTi has a range of 1801 nautical miles. To put that in perspective, that range would get you from Cleveland, Ohio to San Francisco, California, or Paris, France to Beirut, Lebanon.
When flying at its economical cruise of 409 KTAS, Nextant claims the 400 XTi can fly as far as 1925 nmi (3565 km; 2215 mi), or roughly the distance between London and Tel Aviv, or about the distance from Toronto to San Francisco, California.
That being said, most operators report a more realistic max range of about 1880 nmi (3482 km; 2163 mi) which still allows it to fly transcontinentally.
Although not expressly designed for it, with all three ranges, the Nextant 400 XTi could technically fly transatlantically on a route like Shannon Airport, Ireland to Newfoundland, Canada, though present regulations would make this quite difficult.
By comparison, its predecessor, the Beechjet 400, had a range of a mere 1333 nmi (2469 km; 1534 mi), which made it impractical for longer-haul transcontinental flights as it required a fuel stop or layover to complete.
What Engine Does The Nextant 400XTi Have?
The Nextant 400 XTi is powered by a pair of Williams International FJ44-3AP engines which produce 3000 lbf (13.3 N) of thrust each. They replaced the pair of Williams International FJ44-4A-32 engines (each of which produced 3,200 lbf/14 kN of thrust) that powered the Beechjet 400 that served as the basis for the 400XTi.
Although the FJ-44-3AP engines are less powerful than those installed on the Beechjet 400, they have a far lower fuel consumption which improves fuel efficiency, gives it increased speed and range and reduces operating costs, making the 400XTi a more appealing aircraft overall.
Similarly, the FJ-44-3AP is also a simpler engine. This makes maintenance far easier, thus reducing maintenance costs. The time between overhaul (TBOH) for the FJ44-3AP is 5,000 hours, a timeframe standard for most light jets.
Is The Nextant 400 XTi a Good Aircraft?
As someone who has had the good fortune to be not only a passenger onboard the Nextant 400XT/XTi, but to fly it also, I’m probably a little biased when I say that it’s probably the best (jet) aircraft I’ve ever flown!
From a pilot’s perspective, the aircraft is incredibly easy to fly. The next generation technology employed on the 400XTi’s flight deck greatly reduces pilot workload without sacrificing any of the “hands-on” nature of flying many pilots love.
It also lacks much of the unreliability that seems to plague modern technology - I’ve flown it through some of the worst weather phenomena I’ve ever flown through without things like the GPS weather radar or integrated flight information system (IFIS) glitching even a pixel.
The only real downside to the 400 XTi from a pilot perspective is its runway performance. Whilst certainly not as bad as other LJs (I’m looking at you Lear 40), it isn’t the best either, and generally feels quite sluggish at both landing and takeoff, even compared to other LJs it’s significantly lighter than.
From a passenger’s perspective, the 400 XTi is an equally impressive aircraft. Depending on the configuration chosen, its highly modern interior can seat up to 10 people - in greater luxury than I've seen on comparable LJs.
Standard seating configuration seats eight passengers. Three on a luxury three-seat divan sofa, four on the just as luxurious club seats and one on the additional toilet seat (which isn’t as glamorous, but arguably comfier).
Individual passenger controls also allow passengers to control cabin lighting and temperature. The cabin is also quieter than quite possibly any other aircraft I’ve ever been in or flown, likely a by-product of its futureproofing when it came to noise compliance - it doesn’t just meet the FAA’s stage IV requirements, it exceeds them.
Though small, the galley area is like something out of a much larger jet (like a Bombardier Global or Gulfstream G600), featuring dual hot cup containers, a huge beverage storage area and dual ice containers.
From a passenger perspective, the main drawback to the Nextant 400XTi is its comparatively small baggage room. At 31 cu ft, it is quite possibly the smallest I’ve encountered on any non-General Aviation (GA) aircraft, and pales in comparison to the comparatively huge 76 cu ft baggage space of the Phenom 300E.
Overall, the Nextant 400 XTi is a great aircraft, that despite its flaws (which every aircraft has), more than makes up for with its technological advantages and huge cost savings both to acquire the aircraft and to operate it!
Who is The Nextant 400XTi Best For?
Though designed to be great for both corporate and personal use, the Nextant 400 XTi is best served as a corporate transport aircraft.
Principally, this is because the seating configuration offers a greater ability to work and collaborate in-flight. Entering the aircraft, you’ll notice that the four club seats allow four business executives to face and talk to each other in flight, and resembles a conference room more than most other LJs on the market.
You’ll also notice how there’s a lack of screens onboard the aircraft. Yes, there are screens which allow passengers to control cabin lights, temperature and the like, but that’s about it.
Where most other jets would have screens for in-flight entertainment or just to display general flight info, the Nextant 400 XTi does not. And whilst this may appear to be a sort of cost-saving measure on the part of Nextant, I believe this is done deliberately; to remove distractions and encourage passengers to work and collaborate whilst they travel in style.
Indeed, whilst the divan sofa may appear to be more for relaxation than business, I would say this acts as a clever bit of subterfuge. You see, it can work in two ways that I’ve seen:
The first is that it creates a physical separation, sort of like an office door, between those flying for business and those flying for the vacation afterwards; those flying for business can sit in the club seats and discuss business matters, whilst those flying for vacation can sit on the sofa and relax without any need for interaction between the two groups.
The second is similar, but distinct. Again, it creates a separation between two groups, but during flights where everyone is flying for business. Four executives can sit and discuss a more sensitive matter with few documents that need to be shared out, whilst the sofa can serve as a “research” area, with research material scattered across the sofa (which they also sit on) and notetaking apparatuses around them.
In this latter case, this also helps both groups to work together but independently at the same time.
As a Nextant 400XTi pilot, I can personally say that the majority of the people I fly are traveling for business, not personal reasons and intend to work during the flight, usually in relation to why they’re flying in the first place!
About THE AUTHOR
After spending years watching every video I could find about flying, I finally scratched the itch and got my pilots license. Now I fly every chance I get, and share the information I learn, here.Read More About Joe Haygood