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ULTRA LARGE/LONG RANGE JETS ROUND-UP (2005)

November 2005

Category: Review of Jets for sale

Author: Dave Higdon

Ultra-large and ultra-long-range private jet aircraft sales offer business aviation’s ultimate accoutrements.

They are the ‘Titans’ of the fleet: the biggest; longest-legged; and most capital-intensive machines in private air transportation - and they’ve never been more in demand. ‘They’ are the ultra-large cabin and ultra-long range jets that have become significant players – coming from essentially non-existence to a solid percentage of private jets for sale in the past decade.

They are also the smallest group of jets for sale in business aviation. You can literally count this group on your two hands – eight models in total.

Whether owned by a government, business or – surprisingly – an individual in many instances, these world travelers tend to capture attention on whatever ramp they may park. Between their size and relative rarity, only the largest cities on the world map see them with the kind of frequency that breeds familiarity. Everywhere else they go, while in the airport environment, they draw gazes of awe and amazement.

Airports with runways of 5,000 feet and longer are their necessary haunts. With 6,000 feet, an airport takes on real appeal. More and more communities are recognizing the benefits of these longer runways and work to make them so. More than anything, an airport needs pavement laid to handle the weights of these giants of business aviation. As the population grows among these heavy weights of business jets for sale aviation, and the available runways grow in numbers, the frequency of their appearances can only increase. When the business world values face-to-face meetings and the ability to personally observe items of interest, no corner of the world can expect to reach its potential without air access. To get in on some of the biggest opportunities far flung around the world, the big outfits turn to their biggest birds to give their executives the most efficient method of making those connections. So let’s look at the heaviest haulers and the longest cruisers available today.

Why they’re here..

Last month, we used 80,000 pounds as the upper cut-off for large cabin jets, so our collection this month combines corporate aircraft for sale weighing above that bar as ultra-large-cabin business jets. We also detail the ultra-long-range class – 5,000 nautical or longer – regardless of weight and cabin.

It’s an exclusive club, whether measured by the pound or the knot, kilogram or kilometer. And by all forecasts, the fleet numbers will only grow in the coming decade. Together, the group includes but eight aircraft – down two from last year’s list with the end of production of Boeing’s 717 airliner and the sunset of Bombardier Global Express production in favor of an updated Global XRS.

Without further ado, let’s look at the group airplane by airplane.

Regional AIRBUS aircraft for sale:

A319ACJ

Arguably the youngest entrant in the ultra-large cabin community, Airbus didn’t need long to decide to join after watching a competitor for airliner sales enjoy unexpected success selling a purpose built business aviation variant of the world’s best selling airliner.

Hence we have the A319ACJ, a purpose built business aircraft version of the A320 that helped Airbus expand its market share starting way back in the mid-1980s and added sales to its landmark 4,000 aircraft that the collaborative enterprise would have otherwise lacked.

The Airbus Corporate Jet (ACJ) delivers plenty as a business aircraft that offers both an ultra-large cabin and ultra-long range. At 7.4 feet tall, 12.2 feet wide and 78 feet long, the ACJ stands among the top three business jets in cabin size.

Employing the full capacity of its advanced flexible tank system, the ACJ is capable of non-stop flights of 5,200 nautical miles – with eight in the main cabin and a full crew. Furthermore, long before they became common in business jets, the Airbus A320 line – of which the A319 is a smaller cousin – boasted an advanced technology flight deck that was ahead of its time. The same can be said of the A319ACJ’s advanced fly-by-wire control architecture and the individual joysticks stationed just outboard of each pilot seat. Essentially, it is big; it has long legs; it employs some of the most cutting-edge technology in aviation: These traits keep the 319ACJ an attractive option among operators. The price for this highly capable machine runs around $52 million.

More information from www.airbus.com

BOEING BUSINESS JETS for sale:

BBJ and BBJ2

The original offering from Boeing Business Jets single-handedly established the niche of ultra-large cabin long-range business jets and attracted a competitor who has also succeeded, before a second – and even larger – BBJ came to market.

Today, the second of these two Boeing Business Jets for sale hangar mates holds the top spot in the size category, while the original holds on to the number two spot in distance. And the BBJ and BBJ2 also help Boeing extend the unrivalled run of the base model for both: the ubiquitous Boeing 737, the world’s best-selling airliner.

To date 98 BBJs have been sold to 57 customers as of this writing and 84 of them delivered. But despite the multiple benefits of such a vast fleet – maintenance and parts availability, pilot pool, training, etc. – it’s the package offered by the partners who make up Boeing Business Jets for sale that has made the BBJ a success: engine maker General Electric and airframe maker Boeing.

From the start, the partners mandated that their joint company approach the challenge as a corporate aircraft and employ people and practices familiar with, and to, the business aviation community. Thus, the BBJ from the start has been an entity versed in, and trained on, business aviation, creating an airliner variant with purpose built business aircraft utility. And the company marketed and supported the aircraft the same way. Starting with Boeing’s 737-700 airliner as the platform, the original BBJ delivered maximum cruise range exceeding 6,100 nautical miles, immediately placing it in competition for longest range honors with other smaller, similarly priced business jets. But with a cabin standing 7.1 feet tall, spanning 11.7 feet in width and stretching 79.2 feet in cabin length, the BBJ instantly became the king in cabin space.

And the Boeing Business Jets for sale retained its size primacy until the launch of the BBJ2 – a second variant based on the 98.4-foot-long 737-800. With the extra 19 feet of cabin came a 2,000-pound drop in fuel capacity and a commensurate decline in maximum range to about 5,600 nautical miles – still a player in the ultra-long-range group.

The new variant gave BBJ the ability to offer a dizzying array of cabin configurations and range combinations that comes with two airplanes for sale that share virtually everything else. For example, the two planes employ the exact same panels, essential to the common type rating required to fly them. So, pilots trained in one BBJ are also qualified to fly the other – as well as the 737s on which the BBJ models are based.

In a defiance of expectations, individual owners are the leading operators of these business aviation behemoths. Of the 57 customers who have ordered BBJs, 39 percent are private individuals, 38 percent are governments, 13 percent are corporate operators and 10 percent are charter companies.

For about $44 million for a green BBJ (or $54 million for a green BBJ2) these two business jets offer the most in size and nearly as much in range.

More information from www.boeing.com/bbj

BOMBARDIER AEROSPACE:

Global XRS

In a couple more months Bombardier’s replacement for its immensely successful Global Express will have its first delivery, on schedule, about two years after its launch. The original Bombardier Global Express business jets for sale has been replaced by the upcoming Global Express XRS. Since Bombardier co-authored a major revision in the history of business aircraft capabilities, Global models have served as a standard against which other ultra-long-range jet sales have been measured. With the August delivery of the 150th Global, the family also stands as one of the best sellers in the ultra-long-range class.

The XRS promises to break new ground for operators while it continues the trail blazed by the original Global Express. Among the superlatives applicable to the XRS is its ability to connect Tokyo and New York in less than 12 hours, thanks to its non-stop range of 6,150 nm at Mach 0.85.

These advances beyond the extreme abilities of the original Global Express come partly due to a fuel capacity increase of nearly 1,500 pounds and partly due to tweaks in the design. However, these advances don’t stand alone in the improvement brought to the Global XRS. It also boasts an improved cockpit suite, pressurization and take-off performance. Among the enhancements to the flight deck is the new Bombardier Enhanced Vision System (BEVS) as standard equipment, giving flight crew the extra margin of safety that comes from the increased situational awareness of pilots in difficult operating conditions, often at unfamiliar airports.

The pressurization system upgrade lowered the maximum cabin altitude to 5,680 msl at the XRS’ maximum service ceiling of FL510 – an improvement that also translates to a comfortable 4,500-foot cabin at FL450 – lower than Albuquerque, Denver and Jackson Hole.

Another passenger-oriented change in the XRS provides more outside visibility thanks to the adaptation of new larger windows – and the addition of two more overall. Bombardier’s engineers also put the XRS on a diet compared to the Express, cutting enough weight to allow an extra 1,800 pounds in the interior for a total of 7,800 pounds while remaining within operating limits.

Other enhancements to the XRS include added luggage space, shorter runway requirements, and gains in hot-and-high performance thanks to a new zero-flap takeoff capability. And with a redesign of the aircraft’s fuel system plumbing, Bombardier’s engineers cut 15 minutes from the time needed to refuel the XRS – advancing even more the time sensitive aspects of this business jet.

The first customer aircraft for sale should be entering service in early 2006, with a finished price expected to run in the range of $45.5 million, or about $2 million more than the Global Express.

Global 5000

Billed as a smaller, shorter-range Global Express, the Global 5000 earned its spot in the Bombardier product line because it matched so many traits customers identified as ones they wanted in a large cabin jet.

As was the case with the original Global Express, the Global 5000 resulted from the manufacturer identifying a product-line gap and creating a product that filled the space by sandwiching the Global 5000 nicely between the XRS and the Challenger 604. As launched in 2002, the Global 5000 essentially mirrors the Global Express but is shorter by about five feet of cabin length and with 1,200 miles less range. The two Global models otherwise boast the same wing dimensions, Rolls-Royce Deutschland BR710A2-20 engines and advanced flight deck.

Although smaller and lighter than the Global Express, the Bombardier Global 5000 business jets for sale remains a long-legged jet capable of flying 4,850 nautical non-stop at Mach 0.85. Since its certification last year, the first customer Global 5000s have been delivered and are in service with customers. At about $35 million, the 5000 solidly fits its niche in price and utility.

More information from www.aero.bombardier.com

DASSAULT AVIATION:

Falcon 7X

Now flying in development tests, Dassault’s revolutionary 7X stands as the only three-engine model in the ultra-long-range class, as well as the smallest. But with its 5,700-nautical mile capability, the Falcon 7X clearly fits nicely among other ultra-long-range business jet sales.

Among the revolutionary aspects of the 7X is the first application of an all-fly-by-wire control system in a purpose-built business jet for sale, the fully integrated all-digital EASy flight deck hardware Dassault developed in conjunction with Honeywell. Meantime, its engine technology gives the bird enviable fuel efficiency.

The 7X is informed by the Falcon 900 series with a cabin measuring 6.2 feet tall, 7.8 feet wide and slightly more than 39 feet long, putting it right between Bombardier’s Global XRS and Global 5000. But cabin dimensions are pretty much all that the 7X shares with prior Falcon models.

Dassault engineered an all-new transonic wing to give the 7X aerodynamic lines that will let this jet achieve its overall speed and range. Additionally, the Falcon 7X employs three of Pratt & Whitney Canada’s new PW307A powerplants, each producing 6,100 pounds of thrust. The results of new engines and new airfoils together is a jet capable of flying at a class-topping Mach 0.9 at cruise – second only in business aviation circles to the much smaller Cessna Citation X for sale.

Dassault inaugurated flight tests of the 7X earlier this year and progress reported so far is on-track for certification and first deliveries in 2006. At about $37 million, the 7X also deserves mention as among the lowest price jet sales available in this distance and speed range.

More information from www.dassaultfalcon.com

GULFSTREAM AEROSPACE:

Gulfstream G500 business jets for sale  & Gulfstream G550 business jets for sale

Gulfstream Aerospace’s GV paralleled in development the progress of Bombardier’s Global Express, giving buyers a pair of choices from the very launch of the ultra-long-range market in the early 1990s. The GV, however, entered service first in December 1996. Indeed, Gulfstream was quicker to field a follow-on model, the G550 now delivering, as well as an alternate model in the G500. The duo top the Gulfstream pack of large- and ultra-long-range aircraft. 196 GV aircraft were produced before the line transitioned to the new G550 and G500, and Gulfstream aircraft for sale was due to begin production imminently of the 100th G550/G500 aircraft.

At a 6,750 nautical mile maximum range, the G550 holds the top-of-class slot in cruise capability, and at its 5,800-nautical-mile maximum, the Gulfstream G500 offers a long-legged, lower-cost alternative to the G550.

Both the G550 and G500 share a vast cabin measuring more than 50 feet long, 6.2 feet tall and 7.3 feet wide, delivering a comfortable space for today’s working aircraft office-in-the-sky. Those clean dimensions can only help the ‘best in class’ legs of the G550 and the shorter-legged G500.

Both keep travel times to a minimum with smoking Mach 0.885 high-speed cruise abilities that keep the jets among the fastest in their class. Sea-level runway requirements of just over 5,910 feet make the G550 a flexible flyer; the 5,150 feet BFL of the G500 is a best in class. Priced at about $46 million and $38 million respectively, these Gulfstreams are more than capable of bringing in new buyers.

More information from www.gulfstream.com

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