““[Bill Gates] has been historically one of my best supporters…One of my favorite e-mails he ever sent me…I proposed this crazy project. And he sent back this two-line response: ‘This has got to be the craziest thing you’ve ever suggested. Please proceed.’” ”
Hawker 1000A: More of a good thing
On paper, the Hawker 1000A looked like a winner. But after six years and anemic sales, Raytheon walked away from the program with only 52 built, even though it had orders for dozens more. "There must be a reason for this," I hear you say.
Actually, about 2.7 million reasons, or rather, dollars. In 1995, that was the approximate price spread between the $12.695 million Hawker 1000A and the $9.95 million Hawker 800XP. Raytheon sold the two airplanes concurrently and the market voted decisively. Although the 1000A had true transcontinental east-west range (in other words, against the prevailing winds), flew 10 knots faster, drank 20 gallons an hour less fuel, had a longer cabin, offered more luggage space and had two more windows, there just were not enough buyers who thought those attributes were worth almost three million bucks.
During the six years the two models were built simultaneously, the 800 outsold the 1000 by better than two to one and the 1000's production rate dwindled to fewer than 12 per year. Raytheon's accountants pulled out their scalpels and the last 1000 rolled off the line in 1997. By then, Raytheon was immersed in developing a true super-midsize jet, the composite fuselage Hawker Horizon (rebadged the Hawker 4000); and comparatively cramped midsize models, with narrower and lower-ceiling cabins-even stretched ones-were losing appeal as true transcontinental haulers.
But back in 1989, when British Aerospace began work on the 1000, the jet seemed a natural for the U.S. market and its Beechcraft (later Raytheon) distributor and later parent. After all, the Hawker series had been popular since the 1960s and over the years had been updated with new engines, airfoils and amenities. Yet, the basic design philosophy-building an airplane with rugged and simple systems-remained unchanged. In the high-utilization charter world, Hawkers were the horses and they still are today.
On the outside, there are subtle differences between the 800 and the 1000. The 800 has six passenger windows per side; the 1000 has seven. The engine nacelles on the 1000 are slightly different as it is powered by a pair of larger, quieter and more powerful (5,225 pounds of thrust each) Pratt & Whitney PW305B turbofans, the same generation of engines on the Falcon 2000, Learjet 60 and Gulfstream G200. The PW300 series were some of the first engines to incorporate a technology called full-authority digital engine control, or FADEC. The system uses information from the aircraft's air data computers to minimize fuel consumption and maximize thrust; basically, you get more puff for the buck, and pilots are spared the tedium of constant throttle jockeying. FADEC is the main reason the 1000's engines burn less fuel, while pushing more weight at slightly faster speeds than the Garrett/Honeywell TFE731s on the Hawker 800.
Compared with the 800, the 1000's 31,100-pound maximum takeoff weight is 3,000 pounds more. The added weight comes from the engines, additional fuel and twin fuselage plugs immediately forward and aft of the wing. The plugs stretch the passenger cabin to 24.4 feet long and 680 cubic feet; that translates into a larger forward cabin closet and slightly more passenger legroom, but generally not more seats. In fact, typically configured a 1000 generally seats only eight, while an 800 seats nine. (Extra fuel takes away the payload represented by a ninth passenger.) The 1000's additional fuel fits inside a larger main wing fairing. The extra fuel and more economical fuel burn give the Hawker 1000 a ferry range of 3,150 nautical miles, about 500 more than the 800. With an average cruising altitude fuel burn of 232 gallons per hour and a capacity of 1,686 gallons, you will run out of patience long before you run out of gas.
Aside from the larger front closet and the two extra cabin windows, the cursory observer would have a hard time differentiating between the cabin of a 1000 and that of its smaller sibling. You still enter through the submarine-hatch-size airstair door, the average guy still has to hunch over in the five-foot-nine-inch-tall cabin, and the baggage compartment is still too small. Anything that won't fit in the forward closet has to be carried through the cabin to the rear baggage compartment. The standard cabin layout is five single executive seats and one three-place divan that the average six-footer will find slightly Procrustean. Cabins come in two basic styles easily discernable by looking at the seat arms: a more traditional "squared" look and a more flowing, curved "biomorphic" design. I find the former more functional and the latter more aesthetically pleasing, but it is really a matter of personal taste.
Cabin technology has changed considerably since 1997, and thoroughly updating a 1000 cabin will run around $500,000. Popular cabin refurb items for this airplane include microwave oven, coffeemaker, LED lighting, in-flight entertainment system with custom-tuned speakers, 15-inch bulkhead and 8.4-inch plug-in monitors at individual seat locations, DVD player, moving map package, cordless satellite phone headsets, touch-switch cabin controls and lighter-weight noise-dampening cabin insulation. The latter can drop cabin interior noise by more than four decibels.
The 1000's glass cockpit avionics were state-of-the art for their time, and cockpits remain serviceable with a minimum of updating.
Throughout its history, the 1000 proved extremely dependable. Fractional provider NetJets became the largest operator of the type, with a fleet of 27, many of which flew well over 1,000 hours per year. NetJets has retired those airplanes, but they remain in service with new owners. North Carolina-based charter company Pegasus Elite recently acquired 15 of the former NetJets airplanes after Hawker Beechcraft refurbished them. The 1000 "gives us a competitive advantage for a trip in the midsize market," said Pegasus president Jim Segrave, who cited the 1000's good operating economics, range and product support as some of the primary reasons his company acquired so many of the airplanes.
There's another good reason for buying a Hawker 1000: the price gap between it and the smaller Model 800 has narrowed, according to the aircraft pricing service Vref. The difference in performance, range and comfort could well be worth the few dollars more.