Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Hawker Beechcraft Premier 1A: Little Big Jet
With six-passenger cabin seating, 450-knot cruise and fighter-like climb performance, the Premier 1A is the largest airplane in the light jet class
Designing the Premier with a composite fuselage freed up space for a spacious, quiet and comfortable cabin that’s by far the largest in its class.
The Premier is blessed with a pair of Williams FJ44-2A turbofans, rated for 2,300 pounds of thrust per side, and that makes it an instant winner in all the performance parameters that count. It leaps off the ground in less than 3,800 horizontal feet at sea level, climbs at an initial 4,000 fpm and can level at FL410 in less than 23 minutes.
Retired astronaut Hoot Gibson (left) has flown three world records in the Premier IA. He and Product Manager Joe Grubiak (right) are an integral part of the Hawker Beechcraft team.
Owners also suggested it didn’t make much sense to fly a fast jet slowly unless there was a range issue, and most said once they reached cruise altitude, they operated at max Mach virtually all the time, typically flying as high as ATC would allow. Max cruise is about Mach 0.80, which equates to about 450 knots at optimum altitude. Perhaps more than coincidentally, this is exactly the typical cruise speed of most airliners. (Perversely, the fastest airliner is also the largest: the Boeing 747, which reaches Mach 0.85. Unlike the big Boeing, however, the Premier doesn’t burn one gallon per second.)
Editor Jessica Ambats and I flew the Premier 1A demonstrator with a team of sales and demo pilots from Hawker Beechcraft: Product Manager Joe Grubiak, Chief Demo Pilot Peter Kennedy and consultant Robert “Hoot” Gibson, a former Navy F-14 pilot who saw combat in Southeast Asia during the closing years of the Vietnam War. After his Navy experience, Gibson was selected as an astronaut and logged some 36 days in space, flying five missions on the shuttle in the ’80s and ’90s. He served as Chief of the Astronaut Office in the early ’90s. Gibson is also a world-record holder in the Premier 1A, with three city-to-city records: Seattle to Las Vegas at 426 knots (490 mph), Las Vegas to Wichita at 470 knots (540 mph) and Chester, England, to Geneva, Switzerland, at 445 knots (512 mph).
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Labels: Pilot Reports