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Medium Jets (Part 1):
The class where “Mid” is far from “Middling”

Many a cost-conscious business operator can tell you their own Goldilocks tale: The one that was too small for the job- another one too big for the budget – with also the one just right from somewhere in the middle. Jets down the scale in the light segment may lack the reach and speed required beyond the space and load constraints generally associated with light jets. Conversely- as you go up in size the higher bucks primarily provide space and payload improvements- while speed and range don’t improve proportionally with the size – and costs generally grow disproportionately. The happy medium exists- of course- in the middle.

But whether you prefer mid-cabin- midsize or mid-weight- this group in the ‘mids’ are far from middling - and they’re hardly mediocre: These jets typically provide transcontinental range capability- and cabins capable of filling available seats and flying long-distance legs.

The mid-jet segment members typically cruise at speeds competitive with each other and much-larger aircraft from the large- and ultra-large/long-range niches – though one aircraft from the medium class boasts civil aviation’s highest normal speed performance.

Furthermore- nothing in a ground-office facility is unavailable in the mid-segment jets- making for a fully functional aerial office- or whatever the buyer specifically wants in the way of aerial conveyance. Best of all- in terms of overall value – dollar for utility – the mid-segment members acquit themselves quite well as high-performing tools of the trade of transport. These points contribute to the popularity of the segment- and their popularity helps drive a large diversity of models within the segment.

Even downstream- looking to the post-economic crisis period- these particular jets are expected to continue their dominance. But that should surprise no one; we expect the most successful people to be smart and use the best tools or the best values. And particularly in tough times- value remains a winning trait.

THE MAKING OF THE MEDIUM JETS
While it may be difficult to grasp or remember at this stage of history- once-upon-a-time- jets basically came in only two size ranges: small and not small. But then along came some new jets- bigger than ones in the larger of the two groups- and what was once the upper end of the business jet realm became the group in the middle.

Today that middle group comprises the largest single segment in terms of models available. Because of the size of the group- we’ve again decided to split this overview into a pair of companion pieces; the second half runs in the July issue.

To help differentiate the different groups- jets in the light segment became regarded as all those weighing no more than 20-000 pounds; mid-size jets started at 20-001 pounds and continued up to 40-000 pounds; and large – itself now a tiered segment – covers all weighing 40-001 pounds and up.

As we apply these categories- we use the aircraft’s maximum take-off weight (MTOW)- which may be exceeded by hundreds of pounds or more by a model’s maximum ramp weight. We use MTOW because it’s the maximum weight at which the jet can launch on its work.

The payloads described are above the basic operating weight (BOW)- which includes two 200-pound flight-crew members as part of the BOW. That makes payload a clear reflection of how much the airplane can carry – which- minus maximum fuel- describes the passenger and luggage loads available from each aircraft.

We’ve allowed a little wiggle room for aircraft designed for the medium class but edged over the limit because of an upgrade – such as a higher fuel capacity to increase range. Finally- all ranges noted reflect IFR ranges- minus reserves for missed approaches- diversions to alternate destinations and the like. So with these points settled- it’s time to meet the first group.

BOMBARDIER AEROSPACE:
CHALLENGER 300 Business Jet for Sale
Tickling the upper limit of its class- the Challenger 300 covers the value equation quite well- particularly in light of its equipped price- a bit under $21 million. The factors in that equation go well beyond price- though - and include speed- range- payload and airport performance of Bombardier’s smallest Challenger. And smallest means far from ‘small’ with a cabin over 28 feet long- more than seven feet across and more than six feet high.

In terms of airport performance- runways as short as 4-900 feet can handle the Challenger 300 at its gross take-off weight of 38-850 pounds. And the ‘speed factor’ sees the Challenger 300 flying equal with the bulk of the mid- and large-cabin jets- with Mach 0.82 well within its capabilities.

As for reach- carrying a full payload the Challenger 300 offers an approximate range of 2-600 nautical miles – making cross-continent trips possible between almost any two points in the US. Trim the cabin load to four and their baggage- and the Challenger 300 picks up almost 700 nautical miles of added capability to nearly 3-300 nautical miles.

Credit for these numbers belongs to a combination of clean design and the efficiency of the HTF7000 turbofan engine from Honeywell- a 6-826-lbst powerplant with full FADEC control.

Overall- the Challenger 300 can deliver the bulk of the performance of the larger Challenger 605 – save the higher price and longer runway requirements – and do so at operating costs that reflect the smaller machine.

LEARJET 60XR Corporate Jets for Sale
The elder statesman of today’s Learjet lineup- the 60XR represents the company’s continued commitment to the product improvement of a model that’s served company and customers well. Again- the value equation plays large in the success of this Learjet. For a bit more than $13.5 million- the Learjet 60XR delivers a Rockwell Collins ProLine 21 integrated flight deck for the folks working up front. And with the XR designation- the 60XR also offers Electronic Flight Bag integration- complete with all-digital en route charts- approach plates- SIDS and STARS. The paperless cockpit instantly saves weight enough to factor in a few gallons of additional fuel. Not that you need a lot with the 60XR…

For motive force the 60XR uses a pair of high-efficiency Pratt & Whitney Canada PW305A turbofans producing over 4-600-lbst on even hot-and-high days at ISA+17 degrees Celsius.

The cabin stretches 17 feet long- stands 5.7 feet tall and 5.9 feet wide – not huge- but still comfortable for the average traveler. And even if the cabin seems small to the above average in stature- at the Mach 0.81 cruise speed of the 60XR- the folks in the cabin don’t spend much time back there- save maybe those maximum-range 2-365-nautical legs.

The 60XR needs a minimum of 5-450 feet of runway at MTOW and sea level conditions – but at the lighter weights that typical missions are often flown- less will often do. Yet the 60XR won’t be Learjet’s largest much longer...

LEARJET 85
Within weeks of initial announcement- the newest Learjet on the drawing boards faced a name change; then- months later- a financial crisis at the partner company enlisted to handle the preliminary structures work on prototypes of the company’s first all-composite business jet.

Former setbacks aside- though- today the program seems to be proceeding apace- so far not greatly affected by the industry-wide business malaise. The company has its supply base in place- the technical team ramp-up is well along- and the company has completed the structural-design validation process.

But instead of working with a partner- as originally planned- the manufacturer itself assumed complete responsibility for design- manufacturing and assembly of all primary and secondary structures- and integration of systems at final assembly.

The third clean-sheet Learjet design – and the second in a bit more than a decade – the Learjet 85 holds promise to change the equation on mid-cabin jets as the first all-composite FAR 25 business jet. With a list price of $17.7 million in 2009 dollars- here’s the rundown on the new Learjet 85’s value/performance equation: Interior measurements for the Learjet 85 stand at almost six feet tall – three inches taller – and slightly over six feet wide – about two inches wider than the 60XR. At almost 25 feet in length- the Learjet 85’s cabin stretches about 85 inches longer than the Learjet 60XR’s.

The new PW307B powerplant from Pratt & Whitney Canada will deliver 6-100 pounds of thrust while also providing ‘cleaner’ power- thanks to state-of-the-art thinking in the design; items like the TALON low-emission combustor and other high-tech changes designed for efficiency and reliability.

Learjet tapped the new Pro Line Fusion integrated flight deck from Rockwell Collins to provide the cockpit with the full-range of benefits and enhancements found on today’s state-of-the-art integrated flight decks. Bombardier opted to configure the cockpit with three 15-inch screens to serve all the necessary flight- air-data- navigation and communication demands.

Finally- the Learjet 85 promises a 3-000- nautical range with four aboard at Mach 0.78 while its top cruise speed is Mach 0.82

More information from www.aero.bombardier.com

CESSNA AIRCRAFT:
CITATION SOVEREIGN Aircraft for Sale
From the flight deck aft to the powerplants- from wingtip to wingtip- Cessna promised the Citation Sovereign would deliver at a level no prior Citation matched – save speed – and from the strength of its sales and backlog- the Sovereign seems to have succeeded… at a highly competitive price slightly under $17.5 million. Take a look.

Back in the tail- where the push originates- the two Pratt PW306C turbofans offer 5-770-lbst - power enough to drive the Sovereign to cruise speeds as high as Mach 0.80. Coupled with the clean-sheet cleanliness of the Sovereign’s aerodynamics- these engines also push the jet down the runway quickly enough to need as little as 3-600 feet (the top of its class and as good- or better- than a few jets in the light segment).

The spacious cabin stretches more than 25 feet in length- spans 5.5 feet wide and stands 5.7 feet high – comfortably sized for business travel- but not so big as to slow the plane or require more thrust to perform. Put the package together and you have a solid business performer capable of covering 2-800 nautical- with access to scores more airports than most of its segment contemporaries.

CITATION X Airplanes for Sale
Nearing the end of its second decade in production- the Citation X still holds undisputed claim to the appeal of speed as the world’s fastest business jet. But there’s more to the Citation X than its Mach 0.92 cruise capabilities – and those traits work to underpin its place in the Citation inventory.

Behind the speed is- of course- the Citation X’s wind-cheating airframe design- a look as distinctive on ramps of the world as that speed mark is in the hearts and minds of pilots. But the motive for that velocity mark comes from the reliable AE3007C1 engines from Rolls-Royce making 6-764-lbst.

To keep things going where it’s needed- the cockpit crew gets the sophisticated five-screen Primus 2000 flight deck from Honeywell. With dual FMS- GPS and inertial guidance on board- keeping track of location and progress is never in doubt – important when the jet is galloping through the sky at a hugely impressive 10 miles per minute.

The cabin shares much of its dimensions with the Sovereign- but at about a foot shorter. The main point- however: rapid point-to-point travel at the fastest speed available to a civilian- means even longer trips pass quickly. And that helps make the Citation X a continuing value at under $21.75 million- well-equipped.

More information from www.cessna.com

DASSAULT AVIATION:
FALCON 2000DX
Dassault’s 2000 series continues to evolve and advance- as evidenced by the Falcon 2000DX evolution of the EX. The 2000DX continues a line started nearly two decades ago with the original Falcon 2000- and which continues today with other variants of the 2000 airframe. This particular variant won its papers in late 2007.

Today’s Falcon 2000DX can fly a still-air leg stretching a full 3-250 nautical miles- as well as operate from relatively short runways (5-300 feet) thanks to a low approach speed and high landing weight – all of which give this model the value of high airport and mission flexibility.

Also high on the value equation of the 2000DX- its direct-climb-to-FL410 capability: The speed at which the 2000DX accomplishes this climb is also stunning – about 17 minutes. The 7-000-lbst power output of the two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW308C powerplants play key roles in the 2000DX’s high cruise speed – Mach 0.86- which helps make even long legs feel shorter – the 480 knots does that to you.

As with virtually all of its models- Dassault employs its own customized EASy flight deck solution using Honeywell gear as the root hardware. The value Dassault places on this performer brings it in at about $28.5 million.

FALCON 2000EX for Sale
Pay a bit more than $30 million and you come to the Falcon 2000EX - essentially this model is similar to the 2000DX except for subtle difference that let this Falcon fly 1-000 pounds heavier carrying 2-000 pounds more fuel.

The net result is improved range (up to around 3-800 nautical miles) at the cost of a slight increase in runway length required. The Falcon 2000EX gives an operator the added flexibility to take that extra weight in fuel and range- or to take more weight into the cabin- for legs as long as the 2000DX. Again- Honeywell’s Dassault-specified EASy flight deck helps the flight crew with their workload.

If trips tend to go more to the extremes of range limitations- perhaps the 2000EX should be your choice. Essentially- making this call should come down to some serious consideration of overall mission needs - particularly of the proportions between the median and the extreme.

FALCON 2000LX
Certificated just weeks ago- the 2000LX represents the most-capable yet of the 2000-series twin Falcons and at about $30.7 million- perhaps the best value in a Falcon 2000 yet produced. With a maximum range of 4-000 nautical miles- the 2000LX offers the same interior and flight deck as the 2000EX- but with the added capability to connect even more sets of city pairs - like New York to Moscow; Paris to Mumbai; Dubai to London and Hong Kong to Brisbane – non-stop.

The 2000LX also offers excellent climb performance on par with its siblings. As noted earlier- this Falcon also employs the standard with EASy flight deck and uses the same P&WC 308C powerplants making the same 7-000-lbst.

So what makes up the big difference between the LX and the EX? The secret’s in the blended winglets from Aviation Partners of Seattle- Washington. According to the planemaker- Dassault is responsible for new production aircraft while Aviation Partners- the owner of the FAA Supplemental Type Certificate- is responsible for the retrofit of in-service Falcon 2000 aircraft. API developed this High-Mach Blended Winglet specifically for the already-optimized Dassault Falcon wing design.

Modifications such as reinforcing straps on the upper and lower wing panels and servo actuator door to accommodate the increased loads were needed. The final result is a baseline wingspan for the 2000LX that at more than 70 feet is a full 6 feet 9 inches greater than the span of the 2000DX or 2000EX – with only a minimal weight penalty. Deliveries have started.

More information from www.dassaultfalcon.com

NEXT MONTH
That concludes our first installment on medium-size jets; next month we take up the remaining contenders when we finish the medium jets review for 2009.


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