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LARGE CABIN/ULTRA-LONG-RANGE JET REVIEW 2011

May 2011

Category: Aircraft Sales – Forecasts

Author: Dave Higdon

Large Cabin/Ultra-Long-Range Jet Review 2011
Big airplanes, with big capabilities for big needs.

When a company selects an aircraft to support its business pursuits many elements come into play, and the traditionally familiar questions often draw the most attention. Of course, questions of speed, range and airport performance need answering and no savvy CFO expects to sign the approval process without those answers
.

Other questions may loom larger for those charged with remaining productive en route - such as will the cabin support modern office needs beyond fax and phone service basics?

Today’s fast-paced business world tends to extract ever more productivity from its participants – hence the understandable-but-unfortunate intrusion of all forms of communications and data exchange into life at work and at rest. No wonder that the worker bees of business want to know about the cabin of that new airplane.

For those whose companies opt into an ultra-long-range, large-cabin jet, allow yourself a long, refreshing exhale. If a business function exists in the home office, an airborne parallel exists in these jets. They deliver big space, big capabilities and big functionality, while helping to shrink the business world of their operators.

THE CLASS OF 2011
Essentially, among many users of Business Aviation the definition of “large” comes down to how tall the aircraft allows them to stand when walking inside the cabin, a reflection of fuselage diameter, floor-to-ceiling height and how many seats the cabin allows – or overall length.

Nonetheless, the weight standard still wins out on most measures - so we continue to follow standards of measure long-recognized within business flying: light jets weighing 10,001-20,000 lbs, (entry-level coming in under 10,000 lbs); medium jets between 20,001 lbs-40,000 lbs. Large jets typically weigh greater than 40,000 pounds and are purpose-built as a business airplane (differentiating them from the Businessliners - business jets morphed from airliners).

The ultra-long-range and large-cabin class of jets brings with it other common attributes beyond the weight of the plane and the size of the cabin.

Range, of course, stands out in part because of the wide variety within the group. All can cross a continent easily - even an ocean - in a single leg. A smaller number can leapfrog a quarter of the world in a single leg. The higher weights of the aircraft in this segment translate into a need for runways longer than many of the smaller aircraft available, and runway-weight limits also may come into play. Naturally these may also constrain airport options – which can translate into occasional city constraints.

None of these are breakers necessarily, or the popularity of this segment would be far less. Nonetheless, these factors deserve consideration when looking at buying a business aircraft. Regardless of its size; an airplane that can’t get into most of your typical destination airports may be too much airplane.

Conversely, for the operator in need of large-load and long-distance capabilities, the large-cabin segment offers plenty of options for solving that equation. Now, let’s put this background into play by looking at the candidates in business aviation’s large-category race.

BOMBARDIER AEROSPACE: CHALLENGER 605
Arguably the senior member of this group, the Challenger business aircraft platform enjoyed more than three decades of service and improvement to evolve into today’s Challenger 605 model.

Capable of employing runways as short as 5,840 feet, the Challenger 605 can cover more than 4,000 nautical miles carrying seven passengers and available fuel while flying at more than 425 knots (470 knot maximum cruise with shorter range).

The combination works thanks to a clean airframe and the 8,700 pounds of fuel-efficient thrust from the two GE CF34-3B turbofans, digital fuel control and a sophisticated flight deck sporting Rockwell Collins’ widely- used Pro Line 21 integrated flight deck system in a four-screen configuration. A flight deck with tremendous redundancy, the system also includes an auto-throttle function on one of its two autopilot systems.

The panel also sports integrated stand-by instruments and an integrated flight-information system and electronic flight bag that support electronic chart products for a paperless cockpit.

For the passengers working in the back, it’s the cabin that counts – and this cabin rates highly on many a list, offering over 28 feet length, 6.1 feet height, and more than 7 feet width. Challenger aircraft pioneered stand-up cabin space, and three decades later the Challenger line remains a stand-out.

GLOBAL 5000 & XRS The era of truly ultra-long-range business jets began with two players and, aside from some competition from some of the Businessliner group, the same two founding names continue to lead the pack. One of those two names is Bombardier’s Global Express - and its descendants (the Global 5000 and Global Express XRS) remain world-class contenders as both ultra-long-range and large-cabin airplanes.

Size-wise, the 6.3-foot height and 8.2-foot width of these two models feels even larger when inside. Measuring 46 and 48 feet long respectively, the Global 5000 and XRS each provide generous room for their occupants - whether engaged in head-down business functions, or resting ahead of arrival for a big meeting.

The duo offer airport flexibility that belies their size as well as fuel efficiency that makes them cheaper to operate than Businessliners of comparable reach. The Global 5000 needs only 5,540 feet (at sea level, standard day), while the heavier Global Express XRS needs just under 6,200 feet.

Additionally, they offer reach to shrink a good portion of the globe to within non-stop reach: the Global 5000’s maximum range is about 5,200 nautical miles whereas the Global XRS’ 6,150 nautical-mile reach connects Tokyo with New York non-stop.

Rockwell Collins supplies the Pro Line Fusion foundation for the Global Vision flight deck, Rolls-Royce’s BR710 powerplants provide the motive force, and Bombardier provides the sleek, clean airframe that ties together these major systems into the highflying jets they are.

GLOBAL 7000 & GLOBAL 8000
Unveiled last year, two developmental advances of the Global line offer a 7,300 nautical- mile range (Global 7000) and an unparalleled 7,900 nautical mile range (Global 8000). And - as the late-night infomercial man might say - there’s more: these range numbers go with a Mach 0.85 cruise speed; Mach 0.90 is their maximum cruise speeds.

Helping make these numbers possible will be new engines from GE and more-advanced avionics. Stay tuned – this is a distance race unlike anything ever seen in private aircraft.

More information from
www.aero.bombardier.com

DASSAULT FALCON
Dassault’s annual briefing back in March simplified what had become one of the more complex sections of these articles – the section describing the Falcon line-up and the variations within a model. The company announced the end of production for the 2000DX twin and 900DX tri-jets. That leaves the Falcon 2000LX and 900LX in our large-cabin category - and we’ll review the latter first.

FALCON 900LX
Capable of covering more than 4,700 nautical miles, the 900LX is a descendant of the original triple-engine Falcon 50 and its successor the Falcon 900. Where safety, comfort and redundancy is concerned, the only way to beat this Falcon model is with another – the Falcon 7X (reviewed below).

The three Honeywell TFE731-60 turbofans each produce 5,000 pounds of thrust with excellent fuel-consumption numbers. (Who wouldn’t enjoy the added peace of mind that stems from the redundancy of a three-engine jet.)

A remarkably slow approach speed of 110 knots helps this Falcon land in as little as 2,415 feet. Conversely, its similarly low rotation speed gives the Falcon 900LX the ability to launch from as little as 5,110 feet. In the cockpit, Dassault’s EASy flight deck gets its muscle from the underlying Honeywell Primus EPIC system, with the crew enjoying the capabilities of a four-screen, highly redundant flying suite.

At 6.2 feet tall, 7.8 feet wide and 33 feet long (25 feet of it in the main cabin), the 900LX offers plenty of space for work, rest or interaction.

FALCON 2000LX
It’s difficult to categorize the Falcon 2000LX, since it started life decidedly under the 40,000 lbs weight limit, but through the years has crept up to the 42,200-pound maximum take-off weight of today. In large part that’s due to increased fuel capacity to give it its 4,000-nautical-mile range. That range (by the way) is with six on board and cruising at Mach 0.80.

Otherwise, the same height and width numbers of the 900LX cabin apply, but with a 26-foot overall length, enabling the Falcon 2000LX to fit the large-cabin niche quite comfortably.

The 2000LX needs 5,585 feet of runway to launch, but only 2,630 to land (again thanks to its low approach speed (113 knots, in this case)).

Pratt & Whitney Canada developed the PW308C engines specifically for this jet, and with overhaul cycles of 7,000 hours and simpler thrust-reverser hardware, maintenance should be less of an issue. Like its triple-engine brethren, this twin-engine jet enjoys the advantages of the EASy flight deck Dassault developed on the Primus EPIC platform.

FALCON 7X
Dassault’s Falcon 7X flies further and faster than any prior Falcon. At high-speed cruise the Falcon 7X can cover 5,950 nautical miles, plus reserves; that high-speed cruise setting is a quick Mach 0.80, carrying eight.

Much credit for its speed and range belongs to the Falcon 7X’s smooth, flowing lines and the three P&WC PW307A engines and their 6,402 lbst each.

Business Aviation’s inaugural fly-by-wire control architecture system to be used in a purpose-built business jet contributes to both the light-weight of the jet and its flight-deck integration with a model-specific version of the EASy integrated avionics package.

The Falcon 7X’s light empty weight gives it impressive load flexibilities - and its ability to launch from as little as 5,505 feet (only 2,060 to land) adds further to that flexibility.

More information from
www.dassaultfalcon.com

GULFSTREAM AEROSPACE G350 & G450
While the at the low-end of Gulfstream’s large-cabin line, the G350 is no small player, with a maximum range of 3,800 nautical miles, departure-runway needs as short as 5,050 feet, and a maximum cruise speed of Mach 0.88.

While physically identical to the G350, the G450 offers slightly longer range – 4,350 nautical – thanks to a slightly larger fuel capacity and higher gross weight. Yet it still needs only 5,600 feet of runway for departures.

Both models’ cabins measure 6ft 2ins high, 7ft 4ins wide and 40 feet long, while the same Rolls-Royce Tay Mk 611-8C engines power them, and the same PlaneView integrated avionics suite features on the respective flight decks.

With full fuel, their useful load figures also very nearly match: 2,600 pounds for the G350, 2,500 pounds for the G450 – which already carries more fuel. Ultimately, these two descendants of Gulfstream’s hugely successful G-IV continue the tradition that made the G-IV such a great seller and popular with operators and crew, alike.

G500 & G550 Gulfstream offers another pair of ‘peas-in-pod’ twins in the G500 and G550: a pair of airplanes with cabins stretching more than 50 feet in length, while offering 6ft 2ins height and 7ft 4ins width.

The G500 offers a substantial 5,800 nautical mile range, while the G550 ups the ante considerably to 6,750 miles (near the top of the class). The lighter G500 needs less than 5,200 feet for a gross-weight departure, while the heavier G550 requires 5,900 feet for take-off.

Conversely, the G500 can depart with full fuel and carrying 2,300 pounds in the cabin, versus the G550’s 1,800-pound full fuel payload. Extra range will often involve a trade-off.

Each aircraft sports Gulfstream’s purpose-designed PlaneView flight deck, and useful tools such as synthetic and enhanced vision (option on the G500) to improve the pilot’s sensory inputs in the worst of weather conditions.

Capable of seating 14 to 19 people, the G500 and G550 stand among the most capable large-cabin jets yet certified.

G650 Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. confirmed in April a Gulfstream G650 crash during takeoff- performance tests in Roswell, N.M. The accident tragically claimed the lives of two Gulfstream pilots and two flight-test engineers. Understandably, current testing has been put on hold while a detailed investigation takes place.

The G650 is designed to offer more cabin space than its sister-ships, higher cruise speed, and longer range. It offers a maximum cruise speed of Mach 0.925, slightly edging Cessna’s smaller, shorter-legged Citation X as the world’s fastest business jet, while the long-range cruise setting of Mach 0.85 still beats many other business jets’ high-speed settings.

The PlaneView II flight deck brings a new level of control and functionality to the cockpit crew with both EVS and Head-Up Display (HUD) hardware, cursor-control input device and more. The Rolls-Royce BR725 A1-12 engines provide the power, each producing 16,100 lbst needed to propel the jet to its highest speeds, while consuming fuel at a rate that contributes to the G650’s long range: 7,000 nautical miles.

Gulfstream’s engineers managed to extract this speed and fuel efficiency while delivering their largest cabin yet: a full 6 feet, 5 inches tall, an expansive 8 feet, 6 inches wide, and a nominal 46 feet, 10 inches long.

Options include placing the galley forward or aft, and accommodations for two lavatories – one forward, one aft. Yet despite all this, the G650 still needs only 6,000 feet of runway for a gross-weight, sea-level departure, while 3,000 feet will work for the return.

More information from
www.gulfstream.com

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