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Nothing is bigger than the medium jet when it comes to same-class hangar-mates. What a crowded class reunion it would be if you collected examples of all the medium jets going back to the beginning (and arguably the Lockheed JetStar of the late 1950s).

Dave Higdon   |   1st July 2010
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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 Mid-Size Jet Jamboree (Part 2) As promised - a bunch this big needs a second visit.

Nothing is bigger than the medium jet when it comes to same-class hangar-mates. What a crowded class reunion it would be if you collected examples of all the medium jets going back to the beginning (and arguably the Lockheed JetStar of the late 1950s).

First flown in 1957 – years before the first Model 23 Learjet (the inaugural light jet) – the JetStar established a standard for private aircraft travel during its nearly two decades in production. Today’s crowd of medium jets continue to mirror that combination of size- speed and reach in numbers unparalleled in business aviation.

That brings us full circle from last month’s Review (Part 1) to completing our medium jet round-up this month. Before we launch into the second half- though- once more we will provide a definition here. For those who missed last month’s piece or who simply don’t remember it- we will again explain how we differentiate the jet categories: In tune with prevailing industry practice- jets in the light segment fall into a weight range of at least 10-000 pounds but no more than 20-000 pounds- where the midsize segment we examine here starts at 20-001 pounds and continues up to and including 40-000 pounds.

The large segment – now tiered internally – covers jets weighing from 40-001 pounds up. As we employ these standards- we use the aircraft’s MTOW- a weight which may be exceeded by a model’s maximum ramp weight. We opt for MTOW because it’s the maximum weight at which the jet can begin its work.

Payloads described herein are above the basic operating weight (BOW)- which includes two 200-pound flight-crew members. Thus- payload figures realistically reflect how much the aircraft may haul; subtract maximum fuel and you have the weight available for people and equipment. We allowed for some wiggle space to accommodate aircraft designed for the medium class but eventually edged over the limit because of a model enhancement or other model upgrade – say a higher fuel capacity to increase range – but leaves unchanged the cabin attributes of the original design.

Finally- any range information shown represents IFR ranges- meaning the mission distance minus fuel reserves for missed approaches- diverting to alternative destinations and an additional approach – the better to have fuel left in the tanks after such a real-world scenario. Now- with these details set-out- it’s time to meet the remainder of the group.

A corny way to observe the advance of Brazil’s aircraft maker into business aviation might be to say “Embraer’s establishing quite a ‘legacy’ for itself…” but we won’t indulge in that cheap shot… Instead we’ll observe how in a little more than a decade Embraer’s business aircraft offerings have evolved significantly beyond the early airliner spin-offs and into a full-blown product line of purpose-built corporate jets.

The longtime maker of general aviation and regional airline products now stands alongside other major players in business aviation – not for the volume of products delivered but for the variety and depth of products offered.

With the Phenom offerings at the Entry-Level and Light Jet end of the spectrum and the Lineage at the upper end- the Legacy models in the middle straddle the mediumand large jet segments of business aviation. Embraer claims considerable progress in both the Legacy 450 and 500 programs since we last checked in with the two last summer. Introduced at the 2007 NBAA convention- these two have since been on a fast-paced path to reality – both laying claim to providing the largest cabins among their direct competitors- in Embraer’s view.

Each model employs Honeywell’s advanced HTF7500E powerplants to provide the fuel-efficient power behind the designs- just as both use the new ProLine Fusion advanced flight deck from the folks in Cedar Rapids at Rockwell Collins. Furthermore- this duo sport Mach 0.82 as their high-speed cruise capabilities- and they are the only business jets under $45 million to have full fly-bywire technology and sidestick controls in the cockpit.

The Legacy 450 can fly 2-300 nautical at long-range cruise while carrying four; but if you were to fill the cabin with eight- the airplane still eats up 2-200 nautical miles per leg at Mach 0.78. The Legacy 500 offers a 3-000 nautical cruise range with four on board- or range of 2-800nm with eight- flying at Mach 0.80. As significant as range from an operating viewpoint may be- the Legacy 450 and 500 can lay claim to the shortest runway requirements of any other jets in the segment – just 4-000 feet for the Legacy 450- and 4-600 for the Legacy 500- both at their respective maximum structural takeoff weights.

Not to forget the size factor- though: both will sport cabins with a 6-foot height and a flat floor throughout- Embraer says. The fuselage length stands as the most-significant physical difference between the models- however - the Legacy 450 sporting a cabin 62.85 feet in length and the Legacy 500 at 67.33 feet in length.

Work continues apace on this duo- with the Legacy 500 due for first flight next year and certification in 2012. The Legacy 450 is slated to follow with first flight in 2012 and delivery in 2013. Prices currently stand at under $16 million for the 450 and under $19 million for the 500.

More information from www.embraerexecutivejets.com


Following is a landmark we hold with awe: A Gulfstream G150 flying at London City Airport (a converted pier along the Thames in the Docklands District of the city). Watching the BAe 146 airliner launch from the runway at London City was impressive all those years ago; but watching video footage of the G150 arriving and departing on April 30 of this year stands right up there with seeing that first traffic cycle back in the 1980s. A medium jet capable of screaming along at Mach 0.85- yet able to operate from under 4-000 feet on takeoff- and land on just over 4-300- while fueled to fly nearly 3-000 nautical miles- as well?

Packaging that capability into a medium jet is quite an accomplishment - but that’s what Gulfstream engineers created when they designed the G150. The creators at Gulfstream also gave the G150 a PlaneView flight deck treatment for its ProLine 21 panel from Rockwell Collins- Honeywell TFE731-40AR power- and a host of advance features designed to ease flight-deck workload.

Among those features that can be integrated into the G150 flight deck is the optional Safe Flight Automatic Throttle System (ATS)- which continuously manages thrust during all phases of flight – from take-off and climbto- cruise and descent- as well as for approach- landing- even a go-around.

Gulfstream’s in-house developed EVS – Enhanced Vision System – is an available enhancement- one shown to be popular among flight crews thanks to its ability to show pilots what’s hidden in the dark. Essentially- the G150 serves up a significant package of performance- technology and comfort- with a main cabin stretching to almost 18 feet in length- standing 5.9 feet tall and wide. The company offers a variety of interior configurations to suit the varying needs of operators. For under $16 million- the G150 is a stand-out in terms of performance and value.

Anything the G150 can do- the G200 does bigger (except for the London City Airport approval). But that’s not necessarily a bad thing when you consider the bigger picture – or- in this case- the bigger cabin and other attributes the G200 boasts over its sibling. After more than a decade the G200 remains a modern- sophisticated super midsize jet. That cabin measures nearly 24.5 feet long- stands 6.25 feet tall and spans more than seven feet wide; the company offers this space in three floor plans.

Getting off the ground- the G200 needs just over 6-000 feet; getting back down- it needs only 3-280 feet. The 6-000-pounds-plus of thrust from the two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW306A powerplants provide the motive force and fuel efficiency needed for the G200 to hit its other marks.

For example- in between departure and landing the G200 can cover 3-400 nautical miles at Mach 0.75 or closer to 3-000 at Mach 0.80. If you can live with a little less- shortening the trip- a top cruise speed of Mach 0.85 (like its hangar mate- the G150) is within reach.

The ProLine 4-based integrated panel can be enhanced with options like the auto-throttle system available for the G150. Less than $24 million should see you fly your own G200.

If you still want more than a G150 or G200 can provide - maybe something using newer technologies (such as hybridized flight controls) the G250 may be your plane. Gulfstream included such advanced technologies in its newest mid-size-cabin model that first flew in late 2009.

The package employs best-choice solutions for each of the three axes- with manual linkages for the ailerons- hydro-mechanical in the pitch-control loop- and full digital-electronic fly-by-wire control of the rudder and wing spoilers. Combining pitch and roll control into a side-stick controller opens up panel space and also provides an at-hand location for the standard cursor-control device used to manage the G250’s sophisticated PlaneView 250 integrated flight deck.

Based on Rockwell-Collins’ new ProLine Fusion system- the PlaneView 250 flight deck blends functions and awareness tools for a new level of control and systems management. The cockpit features a cursor control device (CCD)- which allows the pilot to graphically interface with the displays - pulldown menus- graphical flight planning- etc. This redundant feature helps reduce pilot workload.

Engineers tapped Honeywell’s increasingly popular HTF7250-series fanjets to provide the motive force the G250 needs to deliver its excellent performance envelope. Couple the power of these engines with the new wing tweaks- the redesigned T-tail and other cleanup steps- and you get a jet with excellent runway numbers belied by its overall performance capabilities. The G250 needs less than 5-000 feet of runway to start a lengthy journey.

The resulting package of control advances- modern- FADEC-controlled power and leading-edge efficiency results in a jet capable of carrying six people 3-000 nautical miles – and do so at a Mach 0.85 clip. Pull the power levers back a notch to Mach 0.80 and that same load of fuel and same cabin load can traverse 3-400 nautical (fully 20 percent farther).

Beyond the front-office attributes and the performance parameters of the G250- ample attention was given to those in the cabin. The main cabin is just short of 26 feet in length- stands 6.25 feet tall and spans a width of 7.2 feet. Meantime- the company offers three distinct floor plans for the G250. Now in flight testing- the G250 should start landing on customers’ ramps in 2011.

More information from www.gulfstream.com


An acquaintance who works on this particular airplane likes to quip- “The best things are worth waiting for- because they’re usually worth the wait.” Usually- he’s talking about the service at a restaurant - but recently he used the same phrase in support of HBC’s long-time-coming Hawker 4000.

A groundbreaking design when first introduced nearly 15 years ago- the mid-size jet promised cabin space in excess of its exterior dimensions thanks to a novel manufacturing approach: winding the fuselage structure with carbon-fiber tape on a mandrel- with a layer of honeycomb material placed precisely over the inner layer of carbon fiber – and then wound over again with a final layer of the wide- black tape. The resulting fuselage structure weighed less and provided more interior space than any comparable cabin rendered in traditional aluminum.

The fuselage would be mated to an all-metal wing constructed from far fewer parts than usual thanks to advances in high-speed machining and other metal-shaping technologies.

Built with a Honeywell Primus Epic integrated flight deck and powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney Canada PW308A powerplants making 6-900 pounds of thrust- the resulting Hawker 4000 ultimately overcame a series of challenges thrown at it- its company and the market to win solid reviews from the operators flying it.

The Mach 0.84 maximum speed and more than 3-250-nautical-mile range are solidly in the mainstream of the category while the cabin volume puts the Hawker 4000 at the upper-end of its class. Runway performance as short as 4-500 feet make it more flexible than most of its category kin- and the price – a little under $22 million – makes it more than a little competitive in its segment.

Replacing a winning design can be a dicey proposition – particularly when you cater to buyers with different perspectives on what they want and need. To adequately replace the venerable Hawker 800/800XP/850XP and maintain a line-up with something for everyone- Hawker Beechcraft decided on not one- but two model variations: the Hawker 750 and Hawker 900XP.

Both share cabin amenities and space (21.33 feet in length- 6 feet in width and 5.75 feet height); both employ Rockwell Collins’ advanced ProLine 21 flight deck- sticking with a choice that won acceptance in the Hawker Beechcraft 850XP.

They differ- however- in powerplants- wings- range and price. The Hawker 750 continues with the Honeywell TFE731-5BR powerplants employed on the Hawker Beechcraft 850XP and also eschews a fuel tank in the aft fuselage- opening up space for additional luggage. For the Hawker 900XP- Hawker Beechcraft opted for the Dash-50R version of the TFE731 engine- helping with longer range- better hot-and-high performance- improved climb performance and reduced fuel burn.

A wider wing span – thanks to the standard- equipment winglets – a higher ramp weight (to accommodate increased fuel capacity)- and some extra touches in the cabin- round out the major differences between HBC’s two newest Hawkers. While the Hawker 900XP sports a muchhigher operating weight range- the changes between it and the Hawker 750 amount to only 250 lbs additional weight for the empty aircraft. Interestingly- although the 900XP can carry more fuel- its maximum payload at full fuel is slightly lower than the 750.

For about $13 million the Hawker 750 delivers a maximum range of about 2-100 nautical miles and all the space of its predecessor. At under $16 million- the 900XP provides a maximum range of just under 2-900 nautical miles and added loading flexibility through the ability to trade out fuel for payload.

Both share in the reputation and mystique that comes with flying a direct descendant of the original 125.

More information www.hawkerbeechcraft.com

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