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We won’t repeat the analogy we used to introduce the first half of our review of the medium jets available in the market today (see June issue of World Aircraft Sales Magazine- p90). But we will re-assert the idea that the market offers so many options in this segment because the middle segment seems to be where business jets provide the best blend of costs and capability.The traits typical of the medium-cabin jets include ...

Dave Higdon   |   1st July 2009
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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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Medium Jets (Part 2):
Where “Mid” is (still) far from “Middling”.

We won’t repeat the analogy we used to introduce the first half of our review of the medium jets available in the market today (see June issue of World Aircraft Sales Magazine- p90). But we will re-assert the idea that the market offers so many options in this segment because the middle segment seems to be where business jets provide the best blend of costs and capability.

The traits typical of the medium-cabin jets include cabins large enough to comfortably accommodate groups of four to eight- range potential close to - if not actually - transcontinental- and the price and operating cost efficiencies still somewhat in balance with the aircraft’s size and capabilities.

Cutting to the quick- medium jets are ultimately medium in size- range and price- but fast and capable beyond their costs - they’re medium- but definitely not mediocre. To help those who might have missed last month’s Medium Jets Review (Part 1)- we’ll again lay out how we differentiate between the groups.

Per long-time industry practice- jets in the light segment include those weighing no less than 10-000 pounds and no more than 20-000 pounds; the mid-size segment we examine here starts at 20-001 pounds and continues up to 40-000 pounds. The large jet segment (now tiered itself) covers aircraft weighing 40-001 pounds-plus.

As we employ these standards- 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. The payloads described are above the basic operating weight (BOW)- which includes two 200-pound flight-crew members.

So our figures help show payload as a solid reflection of how much the airplane can carry; subtract maximum fuel and you have the weight available for passengers and luggage loads. We’ve allowed a little wiggle room for aircraft initially rooted in 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 alternative destinations and the like. So- with these points in play- let’s meet this month’s contenders.

Well along in the design and definition processes- Embraer’s two entrants into the mid-size segment of corporate aviation remain three and four years out from first delivery. But both the Legacy 500 and its smaller sibling- the Legacy 450- deserve credit for the waves they helped generate in the business aviation community.

When first unveiled to the community at the 2007 convention of the National Business Aviation Association- they carried labels rather than names: the Mid-Light Jet (the 450) and the Mid-Size Jet (the 500). A few months later at EBACE 2008- Embraer gave them their official names that helped peg their relative positions in the company’s growing range of business aircraft – between the light jet Phenom 300 and the large-cabin Legacy 600.

As is often the case with the Brazilian planemaker though- the two jets bring more to the market than an obvious move to further Embraer’s market penetration- as represented by their sizing. Both adopt the latest technologies in power- panel and flight control architecture.

The Legacy 450 and 500 models each employ Honeywell’s cutting-edge HTF7500E turbofans to propel them- offering excellent fuel efficiency and power to spare. Embraer turned to Rockwell Collins for the new Pro Line Fusion flight deck- giving both models the latest available advances in integrating aircraft management- communications- hazard avoidance and navigation integration.

In a further nod to the benefits of digital electronics- Embraer opted to equip both new models with full fly-by-wire control- an architecture that saves weight- reduces maintenance and improves the integration possible between the flight-deck systems- aircraft systems and the powerplants through Full Authority Digital Engine Controls (FADEC) systems. Opting to employ fly-by-wire also opened the way for Embraer to implement its first use of side-stick flight controllers.

The biggest difference between the two jets comes in their cabin lengths- with the Legacy 500 expected to sport almost five feet more fuselage – around 30 feet – than the Legacy 450- with its cabin at roughly 25 feet. The Legacy 500 offers a maximum range of 3-000 nautical miles carrying four or 2-800 nautical carrying eight; the Legacy 450 can go a very respectable 2-300 nautical miles carrying eight- or about 2-500 nautical with four.

Earlier in the year Embraer issued an update on these parallel programs- noting- among other items- that vital work such as the control laws for the fly-by-wire system were being validated by Embraer’s test pilots employing modern flight-simulation tools. Embraer also solicited input from commercial and business aviators to further enhance the validation process.

The Legacy 500 is expected to enter service in late 2012 assuming an on-time first flight in 2011- while the Legacy 450 will enter service about a year behind its larger sibling. Pricing of these two aircraft are currently about $15.25 million for the Legacy 450 and approximately $18.4 million for the Legacy 500.

More information from www.embraercorporatejets.com


The economic recession took a lot of steam out of what just a year ago still seemed an over-heated market for business jets. But strong contenders continue to attract market attention - and Gulfstream’s two mid-cabin jets enjoy some of that attention- thanks- in part- to the company’s continuing effort to exhibit the speed and operating efficiencies of the G150- the company’s smallest jet- and the step-up G200.

Still priced at a highly competitive $15 million- the G150- according to the planemaker- stands as the fastest mid-size business jet made today. Already equipped with a Rockwell Collins ProLine 21 integrated cockpit- the G150 flight deck got some updating with touches from the Honeywell-based Gulfstream PlaneView panel used on the company’s largest models. And new aerodynamic improvements work with the two Honeywell TFE731-40AR engines to give the G150 a maximum operating speed of Mach 0.85 – balanced by a Mach 0.75 long-range cruise setting that lets this jet fly legs just short of 3-000 nautical miles carrying four passengers.

The G150 offers operators a choice among three interior configurations that provide ample work and rest space in a cabin that stands 5.8 feet tall- 5.8 feet wide- and stretches nearly 18 feet long.

Offering a larger solution than the G150 – or a budget-conscious step-up option – the G200 succeeded so well that Gulfstream decided to advance the niche with the upcoming G250.

The G200 gave operators a Gulfstream option sized more like it’s large-cabin models – but still inside the mid-size range of operating and ownership costs. The G200 cabin stretches a full 6.3 feet high- spans an expansive 7.2 feet in width- and extends more than 24 feet in length. But Gulfstreams also deliver more than space; they offer velocity to match. The G200 delivers Mach 0.85 cruise capability and long-range fuel to cover 3-400 nautical miles.

Pilots benefit from the slick- functional interfaces available from the five-screen PlaneView integrated flight deck- fulfilling the value equation for a mid-cabin speedster priced at about $23.3 million.

Later this year the world should get its first glimpse at the first G250- an all-new design. This mid-size replacement for the G200 takes to new levels the mid-cabin performance- space and value equations at about $24 million: Just look at the numbers.

Gulfstream’s engineers tapped a pair of HTF7500-series Honeywell turbofans for thrust- and also designed an all-new T-tail to complement a redesigned- downsized wing of the G550. Thanks to the combination of aerodynamics and some clever changes to the wing- Gulfstream’s engineers were able to give the G250 landing speeds to help it’s runway access while eliminating the weight- complexity and maintenance demands of the slats designed into the leading edge of the G550.

The cabin was stretched to improve on the space available for a flying office or a functional meeting space. These changes enhance what promises to be a category-challenging performance bar with the ability to fly eight people a full 3-600 nautical miles at Mach 0.8. Better still- if time is an issue- the G250 still promises the more-impressive performance of Mach 0.85 –still covering 3-000 nautical miles.

The G250 features a significantly larger lavatory than the G200 and offers baggage compartment access from the cabin - two features specifically requested by Gulfstream’s Customer Advisory Board. Making life easier on the flight crew- Gulfstream went back to work to create a new PlaneView 250 flight deck based on Rockwell Collins’ upcoming ProLine Fusion integrated cockpit.

The flight deck designed also employs a new side-stick controller designed to complement the hybrid flightcontrol system- with fly-by-wire spoiler and rudder controls- hyrdo-mechanical pitch control and manual control of the ailerons. The primary cursor-control hardware for managing and operating the PlaneView 250 system goes on the sidestick.

Gulfstream also expanded the options list for its new mid-cabin model- offering Synthetic Vision- Enhanced Vision- and a pilot-side Heads-Up Display or HUD. The company anticipates certification and initial deliveries in 2011.

More information from www.gulfstream.com


Slowly winning its wings as a reliable solution for operators in need of an advanced mid-cabin business jet- the Hawker 4000 today appeals to many. A corporate pilot contact who flies the 4000 never hesitates to complement its handling- power and efficiency- acknowledging (along with plenty of others) some of the understandable teething problems the jet experienced.

He points out that his boss- most of all- enjoys the size of the cabin enhanced by the composite construction of the fuselage- the combination of speed and range afforded by the metal wing and engines- and the knowledge that his pilots are equipped with an all-digital integrated flight deck.

The engine efficiency comes courtesy of the two PW308A engines and their 6-800 pounds of thrust. With a range of 3-300 nautical miles- connecting any two points in the US poses no issues. With an Mmo of Mach 0.84- the Hawker 4000 makes short work of even maximum range-legs. And the Hawker 4000 needs as little as 4-500 feet runway to take-off or land on.

Hawker Beechcraft’s decision to tap Honeywell for the fully integrated Primus Epic flight deck system makes managing and navigating easy – while the combination of technologies incorporated into the Hawker 4000 informed the company’s work designing its new follow-on models. The Hawker 4000 is equipped with dual IRS (Inertial Reference Systems) and Full Authority Auto Throttle (as standard) which provides easy- fast and efficient automatic thrust control during all phases of flight. The Hawker 4000 can be purchased for just over $21.6 million.

Do you need solid transportation- decent size- speed and reach? Competing in the light-mid-size cabin category- Hawker Beechcraft markets the Hawker 750 as offering the largest cabin and longest range in its class. Developed from the Hawker 800XP- the Hawker 750 offers the same size cabin as the Hawker 850XP and 900XP but without the same level of customization- while utilizing the same TFE731-5BR engine and Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics found on the Hawker 850XP.

In lieu of the aft fuselage ventral fuel tank found on the 850XP and 900XP- the 750 offers an external baggage compartment. With less fuel and no winglets- the range of the aircraft is just over 2-000 nm - but it still enjoys the same turn of speed and sprightly airfield performance as the Hawker 850XP.You could buy a Hawker 750 new for around $12.5 million.

Sometimes it’s the little improvements that make a big difference- which seems to fit the story of Hawker Beechcraft’s legacy Hawker 800XP en route to becoming the 850XP: The big story on the 850XP is the addition of company-designed winglets that enhance several aspects of the mid-size jet’s performance.

The winglets give flight crew the option of using regular cruise-power settings and fuel burns and going about five percent faster – or reducing power a few percentage points to maintain regular cruise speeds and consuming about five percent less fuel. At its nominal long range cruise speed of 0.7 Mach the 850XP provides a still-air range of 2-700 nautical miles – and can do so from runways of about 5-000 feet.

Power for this performance comes from the two Honeywell TFE731-5BR powerplants- while guidance and operational integration is courtesy of the Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21- providing this $14 million performer with technology equal to its mission.

Perhaps your mission requires something with greater range. If so- it is possible the Hawker 900XP could help satisfy those needs. Offering a cabin size at 5.7 high- 5.9 wide and 21.4 long- and a Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 in the flight deck like both the Hawker 750 and Hawker 850XP- the 900XP differs from its two stable mates by utilizing Honeywell’s popular new TFE731-50R powerplants.

The engine selection made for improved hot-and-high capabilities in the Hawker 900XP- along with its stronger climb performance and lower fuel burn. Compared to the - 5BR used on the 750 and 850XP- this new engine offers a 24-percent range increase in hot-and-high departure conditions- as well as a seven percent improvement in range during normal ops – thanks to a six percent overall reduction in specific fuel consumption.

With the new fuel efficient engine in combination with composite winglets- the Hawker 900XP has a maximum range exceeding 2-800 nm. The Hawker 900XP will eventually replace the Hawker 850XP in the midsize cabin/long range segment. You can buy one today for about $15.3 million.

More information from www.hawkerbeechcraft.com

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