Flying the 850XP is a pleasant combination of the familiar and the new. The ram's horn control yokes, the big air brake handle and the large nosewheel steering tiller all fall to hand. But in the panel are the four big Pro Line 21 flat panel displays and the FMS controls in the center. There isn't a radio tuning knob in the airplane because every bit of data, including frequencies, is entered into the FMS. The Collins system uses a scratch pad entry format, so you type in whatever it may be-a frequency, new nav fix, squawk code-and then use a select key to put the entry in the desired place. I like the way it works. You can start typing as soon as you get a new frequency or whatever without needing to put the cursor in a specific place. The previous version of the cockpit had radio control units with knobs, but they just weren't used so they were eliminated in the 850XP.
The Hawker is one of the few airplanes where you can fill the fuel tanks and the seats and still be within certified takeoff weight limits. A typical 850XP has a basic operating weight of 16,245 pounds, including two pilots, their gear and cabin stores. The tanks hold 10,000 pounds of fuel and that leaves 1,875 pounds for passengers and baggage. At the business jet standard of 200 pounds per passenger, that's more than nine people. For my evaluation of the 850XP we had 5,180 pounds of fuel and two passengers, bringing our takeoff weight to just under 22,000 pounds. The Hawker is not the short field champ of the midsize jets, but on a warm day in Wichita we needed 4,250 feet of runway to balance the field for takeoff.
The nosewheel steering and brakes are exceptionally smooth in the Hawker, so you won't jiggle your passengers' drinks on the way to the runway. The engine computers take care of setting power, so it's levers full forward for takeoff. Should an engine fail, the computers automatically increase the output from the remaining engine, and a rudder bias system driven by bleed air from the operating engine steps on the proper rudder to help you hold the airplane straight. All Hawkers have one unusual flying quality and that is at rotation, where the control yoke feels as though it were connected to the elevator by rubber bands. At Vr speed you haul way back on the yoke and in a second or two the nose rises smoothly. As the nose comes up you move the yoke forward and from then on all control inputs generate a smooth and precise response. The Hawker is not a finger tip flyer, but it is easy to fly smoothly.
Once up and away I reduced power until the word "climb" appeared near the N1 fan speed indication on the Pro Line 21 display and left the levers alone. And climb the 850XP does, going up initially at 3,700 fpm. In nine minutes with air temperature 12 to 14º C above standard, the 850XP was through 26,000 feet and four minutes later we were at 35,000 feet. The unrestricted climb to cruise at 38,000 feet took just 15 minutes. The performance was better than the handbook predicted and better than what I remember from earlier Hawkers. Level at FL 380 the 850XP accelerated to Mach .79 with a true airspeed of 449 knots. The acceleration after level off is also quicker thanks to the winglets. The new winglets do not change the predictable flying qualities of the Hawker at high or low speeds. I made a simulated emergency descent with airspeed right at the Mach limits and with the overspeed warning complaining occasionally, and there was no vibration or any other indication that the winglets were there. At the slow end the winglets may provide a little more lift, but not enough to notice or change maneuvering or approach speeds.