The Primus Epic suite is beautifully arrayed, and the overhead panel, about the size of an LP, for our readers who know what that is, contains mostly lighting and icing switches, so there’s not much time spent there. Most of the breakers are electronic, so you control them through the EICAS display. For an intercontinental jet, the 4000 features a remarkably clean layout. Even after a short familiarization I was able to acquaint myself with the cockpit sufficiently that I felt as though, with a few more flights, I’d feel right at home.
In terms of speed, range and comfort, the Hawker 4000, in my opinion, has nailed it. You get an advanced airplane with cutting-edge safety systems that can slide from coast to coast with the greatest of ease at 45,000 feet while maintaining a 6,000-foot cabin, an industry best. The numbers we saw on my flight confirmed the company’s claims. At our ceiling of 41,000 feet that day, we were looking at Mach 0.82, the airplane’s high-speed cruise, burning right around 2,000 pounds per hour. At an economy cruise of 0.78, that fuel burn was a little less than 1,700 pounds per hour, and interestingly, there was a nose-down feel in the cockpit, which makes for a great view. Most importantly, you get good speed, excellent range and an amazing cabin.
On descent, the 4000 is delightfully easy to manage. Dial in the rate of descent and program the altitudes, and the airplane does the rest, the autothrottles rising and falling as you descend and then level off again. If it were necessary, you can even throw in some speedbrakes, for which there is no maximum-speed restriction.
The hot-and-high performance is terrific. Although we were hot and low for my flight, the runway performance was still excellent. According to HBC’s numbers, for an airplane departing from a 5,000-foot-elevation airfield at 78 degrees and at max takeoff weight, the 4000 needs less than 7,000 feet of runway. At sea level under standard conditions, you can chop a couple of thousand feet from that requirement. When it’s time to touch down, the 4000 requires less than 2,500 feet at maximum landing weight.
On my final landing in the 4000, I was nothing short of amazed by its short landing ability. We were fairly light, but given my less-than-proficient performance, we still used just a few thousand feet to get stopped. I actually had to taxi past the first reverse high-speed exit to get to our taxiway, an exit I see singles and light twins miss all the time. There are lots of tools to get stopped. The huge carbon brakes are remarkably effective, the spoilers dump lift as weight settles on the wheels, and there are also effective thrust reversers that get you stopped in a hurry as well. This short-field ability opens up hundreds of airports in the United States alone to the Hawker 4000.
Nothing But New
Today HBC has embarked on a program to retrofit the entire fleet of Hawker 4000s — 46 have been delivered — to current standards, a program that is, to our knowledge, the first of its kind in the history of business aviation, at least for a program this ambitious. Every 4000 will be given new interiors, all new avionics upgrades, including new processors, and more, at no cost. The entire retrofit will take 60 to 90 days and will be performed at HBC’s Little Rock, Arkansas, facility. Hawker Beech will even provide replacement lift for these owners. And owners now get what might be the best warranty in the business, including 10 years or 10,000 hours on the airframe and five years or 3,000 hours on the engines.
Why would a company go out of its way and invest a huge amount of time and money to do this? There can be only one reason. HBC understands that customers are everything. The message this gives past, present and future owners of the company’s flagship airplane is that HBC is willing to do what it takes to make this product right, and to do it right now. And it was willing to invest a sizable sum to make that happen. That adds up to a commitment to an airplane that had an admittedly rough start but that is now, finally, ready for the big time.