Nextant’s Restored Business Aircraft May Get European Boost

Nextant Aerospace, an Ohio firm that replaces the innards of old business jets to offer a cheaper alternative to new planes, aims to deliver more aircraft in 2013 after it received full approval from European regulators.

Nextant has recently delivered planes to customers in Germany and the Czech Republic, and aims to deliver 24 to 30 jets globally this year, compared with 25 since late 2011, President Sean McGeough said in a telephone interview. The European Aviation Safety Agency acted last year to allow the company’s Nextant 400XTs to fly throughout the continent.

Nextant remanufactures jets by adding new engines and instruments to the used airframes of Hawker Beechjet 400A/XPs. The plane sells for about $4.5 million, roughly half the price of a comparable new jet, according to McGeough, who joined the Cleveland-based company this month after leading international operations at Hawker Beechcraft Corp.

“It allows customers that may not have been able to buy a new aircraft to buy one that has already taken the residual-value hit,” McGeough said. “Every time you buy anything new, it will depreciate significantly the day you fly away, and this airframe has already taken that hit.”

The company is looking to expand sales in Europe, where it says delivery of entry-level business jets grew by 14 percent in the four years to 2011 compared with the previous comparable period. About 20 percent of the European fleet is for sale, affording Nextant an opportunity to meet demand for more fuel-efficient planes, McGeough said.

Nextant’s order backlog is worth $175 million and the number of entry-level business jets in Europe stands at 1,542 planes worth about $5 billion, according to the company.

The manufacturer is owned by Directional Aviation Capital, and the principal shareholder is Kenneth Ricci, who is also Nextant’s chief executive officer. Nextant has no plans to offer shares to the public, according to the company.