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Starting at around 40-000 pounds maximum take-off weight- the realm of the large business jet takes on an aura of utility that approaches that of the world’s international flag carriers- and that’s not just a size thing: The jets we examine this month range up to about 80-000 pounds at their maximum take-off weights.

Dave Higdon   |   1st November 2003
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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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The world of stand-up cabins- large distances and utility gains.

Starting at around 40-000 pounds maximum take-off weight- the realm of the large business jet takes on an aura of utility that approaches that of the world’s international flag carriers- and that’s not just a size thing: The jets we examine this month range up to about 80-000 pounds at their maximum take-off weights.

Utility gains also improve the appeal of these industry titans- utility gains in both operations and business terms. That is to say- buyers have more choices in aircraft capable of covering large distances efficiently while carrying passengers in a stand-up office environment with all the amenities necessary for today’s fast-moving company officers.

With businesses increasingly driven by modern macroeconomics- it’s those efficiencies of time and work that help drive what appears as a growing market for jets  - exceeded in size and capability by only those boasting ultra-large cabins- ultra-long range capabilities- or a combination of both.

Honeywell’s latest forecast- delivered last month at the National Business Aviation Association meeting in Orlando- predicts a 2003-2013 total of 770 deliveries in the large jet category- a respectable 10 percent of the total business jet deliveries predicted for the period. That makes an annual large class delivery rate averaging 70 jets during the period- with fractional programs increasingly acting as an influential driver of demand.

Rolls-Royce’s prognostications- although lower overall- varied little from Honeywell’s regarding long-term prospects for large business jets

Let’s examine the contenders for purchase by today’s companies with need for large- fast and far-flung travel.

Bombardier Aerospace:
Challenger 604

Since its introduction in January 1996 as the fifth in the Challenger 600 jet series - the new-generation 604 intercontinental business jet has won honors as the best-seller in its class during the past four years.

Credit belongs to the Challenger’s overall value- broad mission flexibility and the company’s own customer support. In fact- so strong is this model’s legacy that Bombardier effected delivery of the 600th Challenger during last month’s NBAA convention.

Capable of flying non-stop a full 4-077 nautical miles (7-551 km)- the Challenger 604 can readily link London to Chicago- Riyadh to Paris- Tokyo to Seattle- as well as many other key city pairings.

Today’s Challenger 604 aircraft for sale features the total integration of Collins’ highly capable Pro Line 4 avionics suite and the benefits of the integral EICAS. The 604 also boasts improved high-temperature and high-altitude runway performance- as well as that delight of every corporate accountant’s heart- lower fuel consumption and maintenance demands.

Cabin options include an available active-noise-vibration control system that provides cabin sound levels unprecedented in the field while out up in the front office- Bombardier offers a head-up guidance system to enhance pilot situational awareness.

The high degree of value that makes the 604 such a success becomes apparent with its equipped price at less than $25 million.

Challenger 800
Formerly known as the Challenger SE- the Challenger 800 is actually a corporate variant of Bombardier’s highly efficient Regional Jets and Commercial Airliner. Configured for its business mission- the 800 provides operators with a cabin that stretches a vast 45 feet long (13.7 m) – very similar to Bombardier’s world-traveling Global Express – as well as a transcontinental range that exceeds 3-100 nautical miles (5-778 km).

Finished to the operator's choosing- this widebody business jet aircraft offers high reliability and vast productivity benefits in a cabin capable of comfortably handling seating configuration ranging from 14 to 19 passengers- complete with armchairs- club seating and divans.

That continent-hopping range means that the 800- flying with NBAA IFR reserves and in ISA conditions- can connect New York to Los Angeles- New York to London or London to Jeddah – non-stop at a cruise speed of Mach 0.74.

Equipped for business- the 800’s price comes in comfortably under $28 million.
Bombardier also offers the 800 configured as a corporate-shuttle aircraft with seating for up to 30. This version carries a smaller fuel supply- but still boasts a maximum range exceeding 2-500 nautical miles for a price under $23 million.

Falcon 900EX & 900C

Currently- the 900EX Falcon jet aircraft  offers operators the only choice in this class for those who desire the comfort and redundancy of a triple-engine business jet – long a trademark of most Falcon models- from the pioneering 50 first flown in 1976 to the 7X now in the development pipeline.

Unveiled at the 1983 Paris Salon- the original 900 remains among the most versatile of all business aircraft - evolving into today’s ‘C’ and ‘EX’ versions over the years.
Dassault announced development of the 900EX at the 1994 NBAA convention in New Orleans- heralding improvements in range- speed- comfort and efficiency for its largest model.

Capable of flying non-stop a full 4-500 nautical – or- as the company notes- a one-stop 9-000 nautical-mile mission – the Falcon 900EX p beats the 900C by a full 12.5 percent. The first aircraft rolled out on March 13- 1995- shortly before the FAA certificated its now AlliedSignal TFE731-60 engines. First flight followed on June 1- just in time to win points at the 1995 Paris Salon.

Equipped with the modern Honeywell Primus 2000 five-screen EFIS system in Dassault’s own EASy configuration- the integrated flight deck of the 900EX offers crews the ultimate in management and awareness capabilities.

Naturally the 900EX retains all the trademark traits that boosted the prospects of prior Falcons- including its Mach 0.82 cruise capabilities and a cabin that measures a roomy 7.7 feet wide and more than 33 feet long. The price of this capability weighs in at just above $34 million- smartly equipped.

For barely $30 million- Dassault also offers the Falcon 900C- which boasts much of the same technology and all the quality of the 900EX – albeit with slightly less thrust from its three Honeywell engines and 500 miles less in range.

Gulfstream Aerospace:

In the middle of Gulfstream’s now-vast product line- the G300 offers customers large-cabin comfort and solid utility in a package equipped with the best of systems. For example- the G300 can fly more than 3-600 nautical miles carrying eight passengers at a nominal cruise speed of Mach 0.8 in a cabin 45 feet long and more than 6 feet tall.

Runway requirements as short as 5-100 feet stand among the best in class- thanks - in part - to the G300’s efficient aerodynamics and the 13-850 pounds of thrust generated by each of the two Rolls-Royce Tay Mk. 611-8 powerplants. Yet the efficiency of these engines stand high enough to provide that 3-600 miles of reach – plus reserves – on barely 21-000 pounds of fuel.

A maximum cabin altitude of 6-500 feet- and interior options that include as many as six sleeping berths- make the G300 a serious contender for businesses regularly facing continental and oceanic crossings. The price of the G300 comes at about $25.5 million typically equipped.

Take the same airframe as the G300- the same engines and panel- and then add fuel capacity and higher operating weights- and the result is the G400.

Boasting the ability to fly in excess of 4-100 nautical miles – still with eight in the cabin and a crew of two – the G400 takes most of what makes the G300 such a strong contender and improves on it. Both models employ the Honeywell SPZ-8400 cockpit and can be fitted with Gulfstream’s PlaneView enhanced-vision system for maximum operability.

The only penalty the G400 endures for its longer range comes in the form of longer runway requirements. Yet at 5-450 feet at maximum weight (under ISA conditions)- the G400 still requires relatively little runway for its size- weight and range.
The price for this performance is about $32.5 million well equipped.


Dassault Falcon
Falcon 7X

Destined to fly the farthest of any prior Falcon business jet  Dassault’s all-new 7X will boast speeds upward of Mach 0.8 and a non-stop range exceeding 5-700 nautical miles. At 63-700 pounds at takeoff- the 7X will also be the largest-ever Falcon once it wins its wings – currently anticipated for sometime in 2006.

But when first flight comes in early 2005- the headlines likely will focus on something other than the size- range or speed. Instead- the 7X promises the business aviation world the first all fly-by-wire aircraft - a product of Dassault’s vast experience from designing and building military aircraft. That is not to detract from the range- speed or payload of Dassault’s newest triple- which are still pretty decent.

So far- sales are strong for this bird- which will price out at around $38 million. Advanced orders reach well into the mid-double-digit range- with prospects likely to improve with the world’s economy.

Gulfstream: G450
Last month at NBAA- Gulfstream announced development of the G450- a variant of the G400 sporting the new PlaneView cockpit/EVS- FADEC-equipped Rolls-Royce Tay 611-8C engines- a 250-nautical-mile range gain over the G400- a new Honeywell APU- NORDAM composite single-pivot thrust reversers- and several G550 systems. Structural changes anticipated include moving the cabin door aft to improve on the completion possibilities.

Gulfstream expects certification of the G450 in the third quarter of next year with service entry following in the second quarter of 2005. The G450 is already in flight tests following its maiden airtime in April. Four test-bed aircraft are currently flying.

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