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It’s become a big-Mid world out there. Last month we looked at Bombardier’s and Cessna’s products in the Medium Jets category. We discussed how this particular Medium Jet category thrived in today’s Business Aviation world- offering a broad range of capabilities and relative costs that combine to give them considerable value appeal. Currently- buyers are spoilt for choice with 19 aircraft currently offered by the major OEMs- and these same OEMs in turn ...

Dave Higdon   |   1st December 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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Medium Jets Review 2008 (Part 2)

It’s become a big-Mid world out there. Last month we looked at Bombardier’s and Cessna’s products in the Medium Jets category. We discussed how this particular Medium Jet category thrived in today’s Business Aviation world- offering a broad range of capabilities and relative costs that combine to give them considerable value appeal.

Currently- buyers are spoilt for choice with 19 aircraft currently offered by the major OEMs- and these same OEMs in turn will be encouraged by the long-term industry forecasts that generally put future sales of mid- to mid-large cabin jets at around the 30-percent range- compared to about 25 percent for light jets- and large and ultra-long-range jets being around 20 percent.

But as we look at the remaining aircraft in this category - from Dassault- Embraer- Gulfstream and Hawker Beechcraft - let’s recap on what qualifies an aircraft for our Medium Jets Review: For the sake of simplicity- we started this year’s cycle looking at Maximum Gross Take-Off Weight - so we equate the medium jet class as aircraft weighing more than 20-000 lbs- but no more than 40-000 lbs – or- 20-001 to 40-000 lbs to be exact.

We don’t use Maximum Ramp Weight or other non-aerial weight limit in order to place aircraft according to what they may weigh at the start of the take-off roll. We may allow ourselves to fudge a little at one end or another for an aircraft that was designed for the medium class but edged over the limit because of an upgrade – such as a higher fuel capacity to increase range.

Ranges quoted are IFR ranges- minus reserves for missed approaches- diversions to alternative destinations and the like. Otherwise- the parameters are fairly clear and simple. So with this definition- let’s meet the remainder of the fleet.

Certificated late last year- the Falcon 2000DX continues a line started nearly two decades ago with the original 2000- and which continues today with other variants of the Falcon 2000 airframe.

The 2000DX delivers a still-air range of 3-250 nautical miles- an extremely high landing weight – which allows short hops with no time spent reducing fuel load – and a low approach speed to give it a high degree of mission and airport flexibility. A moderate 5-300 feet of runway will do it at maximum take-off weight.

Another attractive trait of the 2000DX is its ability to climb direct to FL410 in as little as 17 minutes – in those areas where ATC will so accommodate – thanks to the 7-000 pounds of thrust developed by each of two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW308C powerplants.

The relatively high Mmo of Mach 0.86- nicely above 480 knots- makes for short flights on long legs- and all the while- the Dassault-standard Honeywell-customized EASy flight deck delivers a complete picture for situational awareness at its maximum. About $27.5 million gets you a place in line for one of the finer Falcon jets made.

Spend a little more ($29 million)- and you can select the Falcon 2000EX- which is the DX throughout except for changes to add to its fuel capacity and gross weight – with a commensurate increase in range to about 3-800 nautical and a slight gain in runway needs.

At 1-000 pounds heavier – with 2-000 pounds additional fuel capacity – 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 its chores. Essentially- whether to buy this jet should come down to some serious consideration of overall mission needs. If trips tend to go more to the extremes of range limitations- the EX could well be your choice.

A new Falcon in the 2000 series- and as Dassault did with its prior incarnations of the Falcon 2000- the 2000LX again ups the ante and hits the upper limits of mid-cabin range with a 4-000-nautical capability on the same fuel as the 2000EX it is essentially destined to replace.

Another cockpit with the EASy system makes for easy pilot transitions between Falcons. In the back the spacious cabin offers plenty of space- at 6.6 feet high and 7.7 feet wide and more than 31 feet long.

You can see the biggest difference in between the EX and newer LX models of the Falcon 2000 by focusing on the wingtips. Out there- on opposite sides- resides one of Aviation Partner’s blended winglets- an aerodynamic improvement that delivers across the spectrum of speed and range – your choice- really – and in climb and handling performance.

Just consider for a moment that approximate 200-mile difference in the ranges quoted for the Falcons 2000EX and 2000LX; the difference stems solely from the blended winglets. This upgrade to the EX is now available; for an all-new LX- expect to pay above $29 million.

More information from www.dassaultfalcon.com


Unheard of until earlier this year - and then under two 'concept' names - the Legacy 450 and Legacy 500 stand as examples of Embraer's drive to fill out its product line- from entry-level to ultra-large.

Both the Legacy 450 and 500 are clean-sheet designs- and sport new fly-by-wire technology- new Honeywell HTF7500E powerplants- large mid-weight cabins- and seating for nine and 12 respectively. The Legacy 500 offers a still-air range of about 3-000 nautical at mission weights- while the shorter fuselage 450 promises a range in the 2-300-nautical-mile neighborhood.

In addition to expanding its product line to show its commitment to business aviation- Embraer also sought price points to emphasize the company's competitive nature. That effort yielded an introductory price of about $18.4 million for the Legacy 500 and about $15.25 million for the Legacy 450. Development is already well under way- with certification and initial deliveries of the 500 due in 2012; and the 450 approximately a year later.

More information from www.EmbraerExecutiveJets.com


A gentleman at the National Business Aviation Association Convention in Orlando this year complained a bit when passing the Gulfstream stand. He wanted to see more about the G150 and the just-announced G250 and previously revealed G650 dominated conversation.

“It’s been offered for way more than mine cost for the delivery position-” he confided.“But I don’t think I’ll ever get another crack at a Gulfstream for less than $15 million.” He may be correct. High demand seldom works to depress prices- and the G150 remains an in-demand Gulfstream – and under $15 million by a nice margin.

So the gentleman seemed ready to hold on to the ability to use 5-000-foot runways- hit speeds as high as Mach 0.85- live with the efficiency of the two 4-420-pound-thrust TFE731-40AR-200G engines from Honeywell- and trust in Gulfstream Synthetic Vision System he ordered to complement the Pro Line 21 panel from Rockwell Collins.

With a 3-000-nautical-mile range- the G150 provides cross-continent range capability to match the cabin space – a comfy 5.8 feet tall and wide- and nearly 18 feet long. No wonder he resisted selling his position; he’d just have to get back in line.

Gulfstream worked hard to create a nearseamless step-up and step-down line- with the G150 at one end and- until recently- the G550 ultra-long-range model at the other. The only step-up from the G150 available in the mid-cabin line has been the highly evolved G200- a model now destined for replacement by the recently announced G250.

The G200 convinced Gulfstream executives of the need for a jet of this size- one with a cabin 6.3 feet tall- an expansive 7.2 feet wide and more than 24 feet long. Another with stand-out speed to match its stand-up space- the G200 delivers Mach 0.85 cruise capability and the fuel to go as far as 3-400 nautical miles. The five-screen PlaneView cockpit system rounds out a jet with considerable value appeal at comfortably under $23 million.

Say “Hello” to the newest kid in the mid-size neighborhood- the Gulfstream 250- a cleansheet design sporting advances more typical of large-cabin and ultra-long-range corporate aircraft introduced on the opening day of this year’s NBAA Convention in Orlando.

A new-design T-tail complements the downsized G550 wing – one lacking the leading edge slats of the larger jet – and stretched G200 cabin to provide a spacious flying office with category-leading capabilities. For example- it offers the ability to carry eight passengers 3-400 nautical miles at Mach 0.8 – or an even-more impressive 3-280 nautical at Mach 0.82.

The G250 gets its speed and range on the two HTF7250G Honeywell turbofans mounted on the tail. A new PlaneView 250 version of the Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion flight deck puts the primary Gulfstream cursor-control hardware devices on a new side-stick controller designed to complement the hybrid flight-control system- with fly-by-wire spoiler and rudder controls- hyrdo-mechanical pitch control and manual control of the ailerons.

The new cockpit system includes options for Synthetic Vision- Enhanced Vision- and a pilot-side Head’s-Up Display or HUD. First flight is expected in the second half of 2009- with certification and initial deliveries in 2011. The price is about $24 million.

More information from www.gulfstream.com

The reviews are rolling in after nearly a year of Hawker 4000 deliveries- and so far the juries seem impressed by the mid-cabin composite fuselage business jet they’d waited to receive for years longer than expected.

“Oh- no question- from the boss’ perspective- this airplane has been worth the wait-” said the pilot of one flight department blessed with an early Hawker 4000 in its hangar.

The PW308A engines deliver their 6-800 pounds of thrust eagerly and without fuss. The runway requirements make for easier mission planning – but then- needing only 4-500 feet opens up a lot of prospects.

The 3-300-nautical range means planning to connect anywhere in North America is seldom more complicated than plotting a direct route. The Mach 0.84 Mmo means that legs can be as short as you want- or as fuel-stingy as you need- and the Primus Epic panel from Honeywell makes keeping track of everything as easy as clicking on a screen to see the information needed.

With its space- and weight-cheating composite fuselage- drag-cheating metal wing and sophisticated engine and panel technology- the Hawker 4000 has helped nudge a new company beyond old horizons. The backlog is growing again- sources say. It takes less than $21 million to reserve your place in queue.

The new owners and seasoned managers of the renamed Hawker Beechcraft Corp. recognized at the outset the need for the company to improve and expand its product line to remain competitive in the business jet segment. So they wasted little time in making some changes- starting with the evolution of the Hawker 800XP to the Hawker 850XP - and- as they say in Kansas- so far- so good.

Once again- winglets set off the change from one variant to another- but in this case those aerodynamic improvements came from in-house design work rather than an outside contractor.

The combination of the 850XP’s improved aerodynamics- the Honeywell TFE731-5BR powerplants- and Rockwell Collins’ Pro Line 21 flight deck put this jet pretty much at technological parity with most of its competition. Likewise with its performance- when examined as an overall package.

This comfortable mid-cabin jet delivers cruise speeds of up to Mach 0.80- range capabilities as long as 2-700 nautical- and runway needs below the median- at about 5-000 feet. And these traits and capabilities combine with the under-$14 million price to keep the 850XP among the top values in the segment.

HAWKER 750 & 900XP
Designed to compete with other aircraft in the 2000nm mid-size category- the new Hawker 750 offers operators the full scope of space- amenities of the Hawker 850XP it- and stable mate the Hawker 900 were introduced to replace. But the 750 comes with an advantage: a much lower price at just above $12 million.

In a nutshell- the range of the 750 is 600nm or so less- and the back-cabin amenities are pretty close to the 850XP (less some of the styling and customization).

Conversely- HBC conceived the 900XP to deliver more in performance than the 850XP- but at about $1.5 million more – or above $14.5 million. You probably won’t be able to see the source of the performance difference between the 850XP and the 900XP – unless- that is- you have an affinity for details in turbofan powerplants.

HBC tapped the new Dash-50R variant of Honeywell’s TFE731 for its better hot-and high performance- its improved climb capabilities and increased fuel efficiency. Compared to the Dash-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.

Both the Hawker 750 and the 900XP are in the pipeline and gaining converts – understandable at their value points.

More information from www.hawkerbeechcraft.com

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