By Clayton Moore
Best Jets of Denison, Texas, is in the final stages of completing its first Best Jets 21st Century Learjet 25 Platinum Edition aircraft.
Jack Francisco, FAA designated engineering representative and manufacturer flight test pilot, and copilot Hunter Cuthbertson lifted N229 WJ Learjet 25D (serial 229) into the air on March 14, at Stevens Aviation in Nashville, Tenn. It’s the first Learjet 25 equipped with Universal Avionics’ 890R glass cockpit with Synthetic Vision. This innovative avionics system establishes a new safety threshold by graphically projecting onto the flight display the earth’s terrain, as a pilot would see it through the windshield on a clear day. This system is designed to reduce the number of controlled flight into terrain aircraft accidents.
Frank Golden of Stevens Aviation supervised the installation from start to finish. He says the project, encompassing 11 supplemental type certificates, has been the highlight of his career. He’s been forced to muster every bit of his considerable avionics expertise.
The milestone flight occurred seven months after Phoenix Associates Land Syndicate acquired the Best Jets group of companies, on Aug. 17, 2006. Since 1978, the public holding company has developed assets and interests in aviation, trucking, construction and other infrastructure and business areas.
Roger Humiston founded Best Jets with his wife, Kate Woolstenhulme, who designs the custom paint schemes and interior, and her brother, Steven Woolstenhulme. The company has earned a reputation for meticulously upgrading Lear 20-series aircraft from tip to tail, and installing and repairing CJ610, CJ700 and J85 jet engines. In addition, the business outfits remanufactured Falcon 20 jets and offers them for sale.
Humiston, the company’s president, is delighted that his vision for this legendary aircraft has finally become a reality.
“This cutting-edge technology will now place the Platinum Edition Best Jets aside any glass cockpit-equipped business jet,” he said.
The Platinum Edition Learjets are equipped with 10,000-hour/12,000-cycle General Electric CJ610 engines. GE’s upgraded solid spool compressor rotor and engine hush kits bring Lear 23, 24 and 25 series aircraft into full Stage III noise compliance. Universal’s Application Server Unit provides WSI weather and charts for a paperless cockpit.
Raymond J. Santa, the newly appointed vice president of marketing and sales for Best Jets, said the new glass cockpit is a key component.
“It’s a cockpit like no other,” Santa said. “We believe this cockpit will save lives. You can’t get this technology in some of the new business jets that are selling for $6 to $9 million. It’s what everybody wants.”
Santa’s immediate focus is to globally promote the new 21st Century line of Lear 25 and Falcon 20 jets. He believes that Best Jets will also field a tremendous response to its products in the Latin American and European markets, where the aircraft have been in operation extensively for decades.
“We believe, without a doubt, that this aircraft brings a lot of value to the business community,” Santa said. “This is a niche and we recognize that, but we’ve made the investment to support this product for many decades to come.”
Best Jets customers will also be able to take advantage of other aviation maintenance facilities owned and soon to be acquired by Phoenix Associates Land Syndicate, including the original Best Jets maintenance group at Love Field and Noble Jet, a jet aircraft maintenance facility at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport (FXE), which was acquired by the conglomerate in February.
“Our customers are now going to be able to service their aircraft in Florida, Michigan and Texas,” Santa said. “We’re looking to grow on the West Coast as well.”
For more information about Best Jets’ 21st Century Learjet conversions, contact Ray@bestjets.aero.