Pilot Journal
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

We Interview 3 Owners

HawkerFrank Perryman
Frank Perryman of Perryman Company in Pittsburgh, Pa., says he couldn’t do what he does without his Premier 1A. Perryman’s company produces titanium products for the medical profession, and his travel needs range from visiting far-flung customers or suppliers in small towns to flying short hops to major airports around the Northeast, South and Midwest.

“We operate the Premier 1A into airports as short as 4,000 feet, and our missions can vary from a few hundred miles to 900 nm or more,” says Perryman. “It’s a rock-solid airplane, certainly the best Beech product we’ve owned—and we’ve owned a number of them.”

The Perryman family has been enthusiastic about Beech airplanes for many years, starting with a Bonanza, then transitioning to a Baron and Duke, moving up to a King Air C90 and, finally, purchasing their first Premier seven years ago. “We looked at a CJ1, but the range/payload numbers didn’t work as well for us,” says Perryman, “and we decided on a Premier. We stepped up to our Premier 1A in 2007, and it’s turned out to be the right choice. The 1A is very quiet, the Collins avionics package is intuitive, and we use the XM weather feature all the time.”

Frank Perryman says there are four family members who’ve flown the Premier 1A at one time or another. “Everyone likes the fact that you can typically fill the tanks and fly with two pilots and three to four passengers. We see 433 to 439 knots on about 820 pounds per hour, typically flying at 38,000 to 40,000 feet most of the time. We couldn’t be more pleased with the Premier.”

Jack Roush
Jack Roush of Roush Fenway Racing in Detroit, Mich., was first attracted to flying simply because it was the fastest way to travel between racing venues. Roush operates five Sprint Cup Series Nascar teams and he tries to make it to as many races as possible when his cars are competing.

“I got into flying back in ’92 when I bought a P-51 Mustang and didn’t have a pilot’s license,” he says. “In 1993, I dedicated myself to the private ticket and earned the license in 10 days. I bought a 421, flew with a check pilot for quite a while and finally became qualified to fly the Golden Eagle.”

His next stop was a Cessna CJ1, and Roush stepped up to a Premier 1A in 2007. “I’m personally sold on the Premier,” Roush explains. “I’m a short guy, and I have nearly stand-up headroom in the Premier’s big cabin, so it’s very comfortable. Additionally, my schedule demands the ability to ad lib. For example, I may be flying 200 to 300 nm on some legs, and 1,100 to 1,200 miles the following day. Recently, I flew Detroit to Indianapolis to Detroit in one day, then Detroit to Charlotte to Detroit the following day. Then Detroit to San Jose to Napa, and Napa to Colorado Springs to Milwaukee to Detroit.”

As you might expect, Roush flies as fast as the jet will go all the time, typically up at FL390 or higher. “One thing that stands out about the Premier is that the combination of area rule, a 20-degree wing sweep and 4,600 pounds of thrust lets me fly 100 knots faster on the same fuel as the CJ1. In combination with the comfort and the easy handling, that’s enough to sell me right there.”

Roger Hannay & Tim Nelson
Tim Nelson, a corporate pilot for Hannay Reels of Westerlo, N.Y., reports that the Premier 1A fits his company’s mission profile almost perfectly. Hannay Reels produces a line of reels for hoses and cables associated with aviation, firefighting and other industrial applications. “Our products are distributed all over the United States, so we never know where we’re going next,” Nelson comments. “We probably average 600-mile stage lengths, though it’s not unusual to fly one 200-mile leg, followed by a 1,000-mile leg. We fly max cruise all the time, and 100% of our trips are for business, usually with three or four people aboard.”

Company CEO Roger Hannay operated a Cessna 414, King Air F90 and Citation CJ1 before the Premier 1A, but the Beech is something of an ultimate. Nelson is especially enthusiastic about the airplane’s climb performance. “On our trips west, we’ll frequently stop in Pueblo, Colo., for fuel,” he says. “Pueblo is right up against the mountains, and that means we need to climb very steeply to get up to a safe altitude for topping the clouds that frequently guard the ridge of the Rockies. The Premier has no problem with that mission. It jumps right up to 25,000 feet on trips west and we can be at 30,000 or above in usually 10 minutes.”

Nelson reports that support from Beech has been outstanding, though there have been few real problems: “Dispatch reliability has been excellent. I can’t remember the last time we had to delay a flight for a maintenance problem. When you combine the speed, comfort and reliability, it adds up to a jet we can live with for some time.”

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