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If there’s one area of human undertaking that epitomizes the reality that one size does not fit all- that segment is aviation. In fact- aviation seems to also epitomize the Darwinian theory that conditions influence evolution. In the 105 years since man first used a powered aircraft- the machines in which many have flown have taken on many specialized forms; aircraft best suited to carry people into the bush- onto the vast expanses of the ...

Dave Higdon   |   1st May 2008
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Dave Higdon Dave Higdon

Dave Higdon writes about aviation from his base in Wichita Kansas. During three decades in...
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Large Cabin Jets:
The big jets keep getting better.

If there’s one area of human undertaking that epitomizes the reality that one size does not fit all- that segment is aviation. In fact- aviation seems to also epitomize the Darwinian theory that conditions influence evolution.

In the 105 years since man first used a powered aircraft- the machines in which many have flown have taken on many specialized forms; aircraft best suited to carry people into the bush- onto the vast expanses of the Arctic and Antarctic- for short-haul people moving long-haul freight- long-haul people moving- and high-speed personal transport. Let’s not forget Sea planes and float planes- agricultural and bush planes- personal aircraft- commercial and corporate planes – some aircraft even specialize in fulfilling multiple roles.

In business aviation- we see the influence of that specialization- as well as graphic acknowledgment that meeting different efficiency requirements demands different sizes.

Taller- longer cabins allow the option of larger groups carrying more gear- and the longer legs that large-cabin jets generally can fly means trans-oceanic- trans-continental capabilities. Indeed- these jets can accommodate more of today’s trappings of the executive suite- adding yet more lure to the large jet attraction. Naturally- flying in this league involves a considerably greater investment – echoing another old line- you get what you pay for. But considering the backlogs- market share and model-choice expansion of the class now underway- the large-cabin jet is evidently the best choice for hundreds of operators each year. And that portends well for this category now and well into the future.

By the Numbers
Generally speaking- large jets are categorized to weigh above 40-000 pounds but no more than 80-000 pounds at Maximum Gross Take-Off Weight (MTOW). As manufacturers continue their quest to differentiate models within traditional categories- these segments continue to serve as the simplest way to break down the business aircraft line by relative size – a direct outcome of aircraft weight. As mentioned above- judging by sales reports and backlog information- large-cabin jets aren’t suffering from a lack of willing customers in the current market climate. Credit for the lines of buyers belongs- at least partly- to the utility of these larger jets – utility and capability- making them popular in all segments- including owned- fractionally owned- chartered and leased- as well as in the service of governments around the world.

With this segment offering a wide range of prices and sizes within its 40-000-pound range- it’s no surprise that planemakers continue to evolve the field in their efforts to maintain competitiveness in a very active segment. You’ll see why as you read on.

Challenger 605
Business Jet
Arguably the elder statesman in the Bombardier business jet line- the Challenger 605 represents the best in progress since the first Challenger took to the skies nearly three decades ago.

As Bombardier has done in other segments- the Challenger 605 benefits from advances in technology- power and production- without losing what made the jet a contender from the start: a wide- comfortable cabin with head room ample for anyone up to six feet tall. With a floor-level width exceeding 7.0 feet and the cabin more than 28 feet long- the Challenger 605 is arguably an excellent fit for a wide variety of missions and budgets.

Fuel prices today have taken on a whole new aspect in budgeting- which makes the Challenger 605’s ability to tanker fuel for 1-000-mile-one-way roundtrips an appealing side effect of its 4-000 nautical-mile-plus-range- particularly for companies able to employ fixed-price fuel contracts.

Among the items that helped Bombardier evolve the Challenger 605 is Rockwell Collin’s evolved Pro Line 21 flight deck suite with four large screens and user-friendly interface. The sixth incarnation of the Challenger offers ample evidence of customer appeal throught the Challenger 605’s range- flexibility and $27.4 million price.

Challenger 870CS
Not all corporate flight needs call for an airborne executive suite or flying board room - which makes the high-density capabilities of the Challenger 870CS airliner variant attractive to some parts of the market.

Equipped with power similar to the 850-series models (approximately 2-100-mile range with high-density seating and speeds of Mach 0.74)- the 870CS (Corporate Shuttle) provides operators with a cabin almost 60 feet long – plenty for a wide variety of staff-transport needs. Expect to pay just over $30.4 million for this particular jet.

More information from www.aero.bombardier.com

Citation Columbus
The industry’s most-prolific planemaker- Cessna- has long heard customers lament the lack of a step-up product from the well-regarded Citation X and Sovereign in the mid-size class. It first unveiled a mock-up of its so-called Large Cabin Concept at NBAA in 2006 and then formally launched the program earlier this year as the Citation Columbus.

As usually occurs with Cessna launches- the Columbus emerged into public view with a large contingent of eager customers lined up and waiting. It appears their wait was worthwhile. The Citation Columbus is- first and foremost- a step into an all-new arena for Cessna: its first contender in the large-cabin category and the largest Citation ever. Priced very competitively at $27 million- the Columbus promises a 4-000-mile range at Mach 0.80- a maximum cruise speed of Mach 0.85- and a passenger-sensitive cabin altitude of 6-700 msl at the jet’s maximum cruise altitude up at FL450. To provide the best in fuel efficiency and low emissions- Cessna tapped Pratt & Whitney Canada for its new PW810 turbofan.

Cessna wanted flight crews to benefit from the latest in an advanced-technology flight deck so it tapped Rockwell Collins for its new Pro Line Fusion system with four 15-inch displays and capabilities which promise new opportunties in how pilots see the world outside. And new hybrid fly-by-wire controls- and choices such as brushless starter-generator components promise low life-cycle costs.

Beyond being competitive in height and width- Cessna says the Columbus offers the longest cabin in its class of purpose-built business jets- with room for 10 passengers and space for a walk-in lavatory- a closet- plus an in-flight-accessible luggage space. The January announcement of the new jet just started the clock running and those front-of-the-line customers who’d been waiting to sign will wait until service entry in 2014- shortly after certification- which the company plans to achieve in 2013.

More information from http://columbus.cessna.com

Falcon 900DX & 900EX Corporate Aircraft
If good things come in threes- as so many believe- you can bet a lot of those believers in business aviation embrace the triple offerings of Dassault’s three-engine Falcons- the 900DX and 900EX.

The 900DX offers exemplary numbers – a range of about 4-000 nautical miles- Mach 0.82 speed and excellent runway performance- while the 900EX offers comparable speed- with a longer runway profile - the result of the higher operating weights that give this version a range of about 4-800 miles.

Much credit for the range and fuel efficiency of both of these Falcons goes to the Honeywell TFE731-60 powerplants and modern digital engine control – along with aerodynamic improvements designed to squeeze out as many miles as possible from a gallon of fuel.

Beyond the above-mentioned differences- these two Falcons share more than engines- with both boasting a spacious 33-foot-long cabin that spans 7.7 feet in width and stands more than 6.0 feet high. The 900DX/EX duo also share Dassault’s innovative EASy five-screen flight deck developed exclusively for Falcon jets in collaboration with Honeywell using its Primus 2000 system.

Lining up a 900DX for your use will require about $35 million- while the 900EX variant commands about 10 percent more- at under $39 million.

Falcon 7X
In looking at Dassault’s Falcon 7X- you see a jet that so defies the parameters of its apparent category as to challenge its placement. Does it belong in this class- thanks to its physical stature- or in another class to match its category-challenging range? Distinct in this class in several ways- one of the many is the fly-by-wire controls Dassault gave the 7X- the first such application in a purpose-built business jet. Another area of distinction is the 6-000-nautical-mile range of the 7X- a trait that places it solidly in the ultra-long-range field.

Yet the 7X weighs thousands of pounds less than other aircraft with similar range while offering a cabin competitive for the large-cabin segment. And all of this is pretty impressive for a jet going for a bit more than $40 million.

More information from www.falconjet.com

Legacy 600/Shuttle
The march to field a full line of Embraer corporate aircraft continues unabated- with the company’s recent unveiling of two more models in the light and mid-cabin range that complement the two small jets already well into development- an ultra-large cabin model due for certification soon- and the large-cabin models known as the Legacy 600 and Legacy Shuttle.

Both business-oriented variants of the EMB-135 regional jetliners- the Legacy models share a cabin standing 6.0 feet tall- just under 7.0 feet wide and more than 42 feet long. They also share powerplants and five-screen Honeywell flight-deck systems. But that’s where the sharing ends.

The Shuttle can accommodate cabins fitted for 19 first-class seats or configured in a high-density fashion for up to 37. At the operating weight of a full 37 seats- the Shuttle offers a maximum range of about 1-200 miles- well below typical for this class.

The Legacy 600 corporate aircraft- however- offers a cabin configured for corporate operations- as well as a higher gross weight and 7-000 pounds more fuel capacity that means business. Capable of covering more than 3-200 nautical miles- this Legacy variant fits firmly into the large-cabin segment of business jets.

Among the Legacy’s top attractions are both models’ value equations. The built-for-business Legacy 600 goes for about $25 million- while the Shuttle comes in at about $19 million- prices which have helped Embraer build a solid backlog - particularly for the 600.

More information from www.embraer.com


Savannah-based Gulfstream offers two contenders in this segment- and the G350- though the smaller of the pair- is by no means a poor relation- but by every measure a solid member of the class. For example- while carrying eight passengers and two on the flight deck- the G350 offers a 3-900-nautical-mile range- a top speed of Mach 0.88- and the ability to depart from runways as short as 5-050 feet.

Those passengers can comfortably enjoy the best office-suite amenities thanks to a cabin 37-feet long- 6.2 feet tall and 7.2 feet wide.

Gulfstream takes equal care of crew members with a PlaneView cockpit featuring Honeywell’s Primus Epic avionics- with available EVS by Gulfstream and the Honeywell 2020 Heads-Up Display system. Priced at about $32 million- the G350 is well placed in the large-cabin segment.

Gulfstream G450 Business Jet Airplanes
While you don’t get more cabin- and the engines and cockpit are the same as the G350- the G450 does offer an additional 400 miles of range to make it a 4-300-nautical machine with the main penalties in runway needs and payload capability. But even at 5-500 feet for runway and eight passengers- the tradeoff won’t be tough for many potential customers.

Wrapped up with the PlaneView cockpit with standard EVS and HUD- the G450 has much in common with even larger jets – except the higher price. It takes just over $35 million to own a G450.

More information from www.gulfstream.com

And that’s all… for now. As you can see- nothing stands still in this business – but you knew that. With this group up by one model- who know what it will look like in another year’s time. A couple of issues from now- we’ll take a look at the equally dynamic field of Ultra Large/Ultra Long Range Business Jets for sale and the movement in that segment.

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