Challenger 3500 vs Gulfstream G280 vs Citation Longitude

How do the Bombardier Challenger 3500, Gulfstream G280 and Cessna Citation Longitude compare side-by-side? What advantages are offered by each model, and to whom does each appeal? Mike Chase analyses the performance and productivity parameters.

Mike Chase  |  01st September 2023
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    Mike Chase
    Mike Chase

    Michael Chase owns Chase & Associates, an aviation consulting firm specialized in industry product...

    Bombardier Challenger 3500 business jet in-flight


    Over the following paragraphs we’ll consider key productivity parameters for the Bombardier Challenger 3500, Gulfstream G280, and Cessna Citation Longitude (including payload, range, speed, and cabin size) to establish which aircraft provides the better value in the Super Mid-Size business jet market. It is hoped that the following jet comparison will help clarify.


    Bombardier Challenger 3500

    The Bombardier Challenger 3500 was first delivered in 2022 as the replacement for the older, but highly popular Challenger 350.

    Upon introducing it to the market, Bombardier highlighted its technologically advanced cabin features, including the industry’s first voice-controlled cabin and the comfort-enhancing Nuage seat. Bombardier also claims the Challenger 3500 has the lowest direct operating costs in its class.

    With a range of 3,377nm, notable field performance and steep-approach capabilities, the Challenger 3500 has been designed to operate in and out of some of the most challenging airports around the world.

    As of this writing, there were 19 Challenger 3500 business jets wholly owned, 12 in fractional ownership, and one in shared ownership, giving a total of 33 jets in operation worldwide. By continent, North America accounted for the entire in-operation fleet.

    Gulfstream G280

    Having entered this market in 2012 as a replacement for the older G200, Gulfstream’s G280 offers a 288nm increase in range, 4,150lbs more MGTOW, and a 210ft reduction in balanced field length, thanks to a redesigned wing (based on the G550’s wing), a larger tail, and Honeywell HTF7250G engines (each offering 1,584lbs more thrust).

    Other improvements included a 17-inch cabin extension, a cabin accessible baggage compartment, and Honeywell PlaneView 280 glass cockpit avionics package.

    At the time of writing there were 245 Gulfstream G280 business jets wholly owned and 13 in shared ownership, for a total of 258 jets in operation worldwide. By continent, North America accounted for the largest fleet percentage, at 86%.

    Cessna Citation Longitude

    Textron Aviation’s Cessna Citation Longitude features a swept wing with winglets and a "T" style empennage. Two FADEC-7 controlled Honeywell HTF7700L turbofans provide the power, while a pressurized cabin with a flat floor provides comfortable accommodation for eight passengers in executive configuration.

    The Citation Longitude received FAA certification on September 23, 2019, and at the time of writing there were 47 wholly owned jets, 47 fractionally owned jets, and two further units in shared-ownership, giving a combined fleet of 96 Citation Longitudes in-operation around the world. The majority (89%) were being flown by North American owners/operators, according to JETNET.

    Payload Comparison

    When comparing business jets, an important area for potential operators to focus on is payload capability, and especially the ‘Available Payload with Maximum Fuel’.

    Table A shows the Challenger 3500 ‘Available Payload with Maximum Fuel’ to be 1,905lbs, which is 305lbs more than that offered by the Citation Longitude (1,600lbs). The Gulfstream G280 has the lowest available payload with maximum fuel, at 950lbs.

    Table A - Challenger 3500 v G280 v Citation Longitude Payload Comparison

    Cabin Comparison

    As shown in Chart A, the Gulfstream G280 offers slightly more height than the Bombardier Challenger 3500 and Cessna Citation Longitude. In terms of cabin width, the Challenger 3500 offers the greatest of the competition. The G280 offers more length than its competitors.

    Chart A - Challenger 3500 v G280 v Citation Longitude Cabin Comparison

    Overall, the Gulfstream G280 offers greater overall cabin volume (935cu.ft) compared to the Challenger 3500 (930cu.ft) and Citation Longitude (755cu.ft), with the G280 and CL3500 pressing home their additional space with nine passenger seats (in typical executive configuration) versus eight for the Longitude.

    The Gulfstream G280 also provides more internal luggage volume (154cu.ft) than Longitude (112cu.ft) and the Challenger 3500 (106cu.ft).

    Range Comparison

    Using Wichita, Kansas as the start point, Chart B shows the Gulfstream G280 has the longest range (3,703nm) compared to the Citation Longitude (3,500nm) and the Challenger 3500 (3,377nm), based on four passengers and available fuel.

    Chart B - Challenger 3500 v G280 v Citation Longitude Range Comparison

    Note: For business jets, ‘Four Pax Range’ represents the maximum IFR range at long range cruise. The NBAA IFR fuel reserve calculation is for a 200nm alternate. This range does not include winds aloft or any other weather-related obstacles.

    Powerplant Details

    Bearing in mind Bombardier claims to have introduced the lowest direct operating costs in the Super Mid-Size jet category through its Challenger 3500, the model utilizes two Honeywell HTF7350 engines, each producing 7,323lbs of thrust, and each burning 239 gallons of fuel per hour.

    By comparison, the Gulfstream G280 has two Honeywell HTF7250G engines producing 7,624lbs of thrust, and burning 230 gallons of fuel per hour each. The Citation Longitude has two Honeywell HTF7700L engines providing 7,665lbst of thrust, with each burning 247 gallons of fuel per hour.

    Cost per Mile Comparison

    Chart C details a ‘Cost per Mile’ comparison for the field factoring direct costs and with each aircraft flying a 1,000nm mission with 800lbs (four passengers) payload.

    Chart C - Challenger 3500 v G280 v Citation Longitude Cost Per Mile Comparison

    The Gulfstream G280 ($6.66/nm) has the highest variable cost compared to the Bombardier Challenger 3500 ($6.27/nm) and the Cessna Citation Longitude ($6.62/nm).

    Variable Cost Comparison

    The ‘Variable Cost’ (illustrated in Chart D) is defined as the estimated cost of fuel, maintenance labor, scheduled parts, and miscellaneous trip expenses (e.g., hangar, crew, and catering).

    These costs DO NOT represent a direct source into every flight department and their trip support expenses. For comparative purposes, the costs presented are the relative differences, not the actual differences since these may vary from one flight department to another.

    Chart D - Challenger 3500 v G280 v Citation Longitude Variable Cost Comparison

    The Gulfstream G280 ($1,983/hr) has the highest variable cost in our study group, followed by the Longitude ($1,870/hr) and the Challenger 3500 ($1,822/hr).

    Market Comparison

    Table B contains the new 2023 prices for the Bombardier Challenger 3500, Gulfstream G280 and Cessna Citation Longitude. Also listed are the long-range cruise speed and range numbers (all per B&CA). The cabin volumes and number of aircraft in-operation, the fleet percentage for sale, and monthly average sold are from JETNET.

    Table B - Challenger 3500 v G280 v Citation Longitude Market Comparison

    The Gulfstream G280’s value (2023 model) is $24.5m making it the least expensive to buy in this field. By comparison, the Challenger 3500 costs $27.2m, and the Citation Longitude $29.995m.

    Meanwhile, the average number of new/used transactions (units sold) per month over the previous 12 months were 4.3 for the Gulfstream G280, 2.7 for the Challenger 3500, and 2.4 for the Citation Longitude.

    Used Aircraft Retail Sale Transaction Analysis

    As of August 7, 2023, there were no Challenger 3500 or Citation Longitude jets available for sale on the pre-owned market. However, there were seven Gulfstream G280s available, according to JETNET. Two invited inquires and one was available for lease. The prices for the other four units ranged between $15.295m and $18.25m.

    While each aircraft serial number is unique, the Airframe Total Time (AFTT) and age/condition will cause great variation in the price of a specific aircraft – even between two from the same year of manufacture. The final negotiated price remains to be decided between the seller and buyer before the sale of an aircraft is completed.

    Depreciation Schedule

    Aircraft that are owned and operated by businesses are often depreciable for income tax purposes under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS). Under MACRS, taxpayers can use accelerated depreciation of assets by taking a greater percentage of the deductions during the first few years of the applicable recovery period.

    In certain cases, aircraft may not qualify under the MACRS system and must be depreciated under the less favorable Alternative Depreciation System (ADS), based on a straight-line method meaning that equal deductions are taken during each year of the applicable recovery period. In most cases, recovery periods under ADS are longer than recovery periods available under MACRS.

    There is a variety of factors that taxpayers must consider in determining if an aircraft may be depreciated, and, if so, the correct depreciation method and recovery period that should be utilized.

    For example, aircraft used in charter service (i.e. Part 135) are normally depreciated under MACRS over a seven-year recovery period, or under ADS using a twelve-year recovery period.

    Aircraft used for qualified business purposes, such as Part 91 business use flights, are generally depreciated under MACRS over a period of five years or by using ADS with a seven-year recovery period. There are certain uses of the aircraft, such as non-business flights, that may have an impact on the allowable depreciation deduction available in any given year.

    The US enacted the 2017 Tax Cuts & Jobs Act into law on December 22, 2017. Under the Act, taxpayers may be able to deduct up to 100% of the cost of a new or pre-owned aircraft purchased after September 27, 2017 and placed in service before January 1, 2023. This 100% expensing provision was a huge bonus for aircraft owners and operators.

    As of January 1, 2023, that deduction was reduced to 80% and will continue to be reduced each year by 20% until December 31, 2026 when it will phase out altogether.

    Nevertheless, ‘Transportation Property’ described in the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) §168(k)(2)(B) and ‘Certain Aircraft’ described in IRC §168(k)(2)(C) will have a one-year delay in the phasedown. Thus, such property may still be eligible for 100% bonus depreciation if placed into service in 2023.

    Table C depicts an example of using the MACRS schedule for a 2023-model Bombardier Challenger 3500 in private (Part 91) and charter (Part 135) operations over five- and seven-year periods. The price is as published by B&CA at the time of writing.

    Table D depicts an example of using the MACRS schedule for a 2023-model Gulfstream G280 in private (Part 91) and charter (Part 135) operations over five- and seven-year periods. The price is as published by B&CA.

    Table E depicts an example of using the MACRS schedule for a 2023-model Cessna Citation Longitude in private (Part 91) and charter (Part 135) operations over five- and seven-year periods. The price is as published by B&CA.

    Tables C, D and E (respectively): Challenger 3500, G280 and Citation Longitude Sample MACRS Schedules

    Productivity Comparison

    The points in Chart E are centered on the same aircraft. Pricing used in the horizontal axis is as published in B&CA. The productivity index requires further discussion since factors used can be somewhat arbitrary. Productivity can be defined (and it is here) as the multiple of three factors:

    1.    Four Passenger Range (nm) with available fuel
    2.    The long-range cruise speed flown to achieve that range
    3.    The cabin volume available for passengers and amenities

    Chart E - Challenger 3500 v G280 v Citation Longitude Variable Productivity Comparison

    Others may choose different parameters, but serious business aircraft buyers are usually impressed with price, range, speed, and cabin size.

    From this aircraft comparison, the Gulfstream G280 has the lowest price, offers greater long-range cruise speed, and provides more range and cabin volume, which helps position it first on the productivity chart.

    But that doesn’t make the choice over which jet is best to buy a foregone conclusion. The Bombardier Challenger 3500 and Cessna Citation Longitude have lower per-mile and variable operating costs and higher ‘Available Payload with Maximum Fuel’ capabilities.

    It’s also interesting to note how the Challenger 3500 and Citation Longitude are both popular with fractional ownership program operators. Their lower operating costs combined with possible price discounts from the OEMs for fleet orders could account for their popularity with Part 91K operators.

    Prospective buyers of one of these Super Mid-Size business jets would have to weigh the capabilities of each very carefully against their specific mission need to determine which one is the best fit for their flight operations. Different owners/operators have different needs.

    Within these paragraphs we have touched upon several of the attributes that business jet operators value, although there are other qualities, such as airport performance, terminal area performance and time-to-climb that might factor in a buying decision.

    Ultimately there is plenty for a prospective buyer to consider when deciding which performance criteria is better suited to them in an aircraft. These business jets offer great value in the market today.

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    Mike Chase

    Mike Chase

    Editor, Aircraft Comparisons

    Michael Chase owns Chase & Associates, an aviation consulting firm specialized in industry product and market research in the Commercial & Business Aviation sectors.

    With over five decades of extensive experience, Michael has worked as a director of special projects for JETNET, LLC; served as Senior Management Consultant for Sabre Holding; and was Director of Market & Sales Research for Gulfstream Aerospace, leading sales and product research, including feasibility and viability studies.


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