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Seldom will anyone within the corporate aviation community deny the premise that room exists to grow – regardless of the actual subject. Whether speaking of the number of operators- the diversity of models or the variety of styles and sizes- that growing space seems perpetual; and so it’s been for the business jet family.

Dave Higdon   |   1st November 2002
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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 Jet Class grows and experiences changes.

Seldom will anyone within the corporate aviation community deny the premise that room exists to grow – regardless of the actual subject. Whether speaking of the number of operators- the diversity of models or the variety of styles and sizes- that growing space seems perpetual; and so it’s been for jets.

In recent years- the growth in light jets attracted much of the media attention. But there’s been plenty of growth among the jets in the so-called 'medium' arena – loosely speaking- those weighing between 20-000 pounds and 40-000 pounds.

It’s a crowded field full of roomy cabins- this one- and more so today than ever before. Among them are some new birds designed to fill niches- some say gaps- in an otherwise crowded field.

These birds all tend to deliver speed and utility equal to the largest business jets – albeit at smaller costs – without sacrificing creature comforts such as stand-up cabins- functional galleys or walk-in lavatories. Best of all- they come in a variety of speed and comfort combinations that allow for some serious needs-based shopping by the discriminating buyer.

Defining the mid-size jet
Although the ads and articles you read in the trade throw around labels like 'super-light' or 'super mid-size-' for our purposes we’ve applied the same parameters generally accepted as the definitive class definitions within aviation: Namely weight.

As mentioned above- the mid-size class remains at 20-000 pounds to 40-000 – firmly sandwiched between light jets (up to 20-000) and large jets (more than 40-000 pounds). Of course- we all know that the super-long-range or ultra-large jets break out well above the ‘middies’- we won’t belabor that point here- for that see our Ultra-Large Jet installment elsewhere in this issue.

For the most part- these mid-size jets share in the cruise-speed capabilities of the fastest jets in business aviation- size notwithstanding- though most do provide range performance in excess to the typical light-jet. You’ll see what we mean below – where all performance data use NBAA standards.

One minor deviation from our weight-based rule-of-thumb involves jets that break the 20-000-pound barrier by a small margin. We covered them previously as light jets. Thus we come to this review.

Bombardier: Learjet 60 Jet
Not only does this proven performer start our listing alphabetically- it starts the category with the lightest- smallest airframe in the class. This direct descendant of Bill Lear’s original model 23 measures 17.7 feet long inside- 5.7 feet tall and 5.9 feet wide. While not by any means expansive for the class- the largest of the Learjets can still seat up to 10- plus two up on the flight deck.

Also while the smallest and lightest mid-class jet- the Learjet 60 delivers performance that’s all Learjet: 453 knots true at cruise- at altitudes up to FL510- a stratospheric level few jets ever attain. Furthermore- the 60 wastes no time in climb- making FL370 in a mere 13 minutes thanks to its PW305As from Pratt & Whitney Canada.

Load it with four passengers plus crew and the 60 needs just 2 hours- 17 minutes to cover 1-000 nautical miles. At lower power settings with full fuel and minimum payload- the 60 can travel in excess of 2-400 nautical miles. With a full payload and available fuel- the Learjet 60 can still cover more than 1-700 nautical- ample evidence of this Learjet’s flexibility.

Best of all- at around $13 million- the 60 taps the wallet the least of any jet in the medium category.

Cessna Aircraft: Citation X
Nothing sells like speed- and the Citation X definitively proves that old adage. Since entering service in early 1997- the Citation X grabbed a bag full of world records that it continues to hold to this day.

However- it’s the repeat customers that most affirm the idea of Cessna chairman Russ Meyer- who thought business aviation was past the point of needing something that exceeded the de-facto speed limit range of Mach 0.8 to Mach 0.85 that topped the stack.

An upgrade earlier this year increased payload by 400 pounds and engine thrust by 5 percent. The result of these changes will be the ability to carry seven passengers with full fuel- and greatly shortened runway requirements.

Customers always want more space- but in the case of the Citation X- operators express more than a little satisfaction with the combination of space and speed. The Citation X jet aircraft  measures 23.5 feet in length- 5.7 feet high and 5.7 feet wide. But when we talk to Citation X operators- the biggest thing in their minds does seems to be the speed- which can shave up to an hour off of the time it takes competitors to fly comparable legs.

With a demonstrated ability to travel economically at Mach 0.92 consistently- the Citation X succeeded in breaking the molds for both speed and economy for all business jets – not just the mid-size. As important as speed is economy- and at around $17 million- the Citation X falls into the middle of the price range as solidly as it falls at the top of the performance stack.

The X delivers equally well in range. With its maximum payload and available fuel- the Citation X cruises more than 2-500 nautical miles; make it maximum fuel- four passengers and two crew members- and the sleek Citation X exceeds 3-500 nautical.

Combine its blistering speed with long range and you have an ideal platform for businesses which frequently need to cross either the Atlantic or the Continent.

The formula that makes the X what it is factors in an inordinately clean airframe with unusually frugal engines- two 6-442-pounds thrust Rolls-Royce Allison AE3007C powerplants.

Interior combinations include variations from eight to twelve. There are even kits to convert an eight-passenger double-club interior into four full-length sleeper berths.

Dassault: Falcon 50EX Business Jet
Dassault remains a rare company among the pool of competitive jet makers- one without a light-jet- allowing the company to focus on sustaining a comfortable market share based on a blend of mid- and large-cabin jets.

A significant part of that blend has been and still is Dassault’s strong-selling 50 series. Today- the ultimate representation of the series is the Falcon 50EX which continues the type’s tradition of offering a no-compromises international traveler.

Three 3-700-pound thrust TFE731-40 fanjets from Honeywell power the back end- while up front the crew manages this sophisticated flyer from a flight deck stacked with Collins’ Pro Line EFIS avionics.

Meld these operating advantages with the best of client comforts starting with a spacious cabin measuring 28 feet long- 5.8 feet tall and 6.1 feet wide. Seating configurations easily accommodate anywhere from nine to nineteen.

Few jets more easily shoulder the missions this mid-size handles almost off-handedly – whether spanning vast distances of water or extreme stretches of hostile territory- the Falcon 50EX provides ample measures of comfort- reliability- redundancy and sophistication.

Flights exceeding 3-000 nautical are no obstacle with eight in the cabin and a two-pilot crew on the flight deck. The cost of this bird falls within the $20 million range.

Falcon 2000 Jet
Ratchet up the price a notch to about $21 million- and the twin-engine Falcon 2000 delivers another approach to a cabin for eight to nineteen- thanks to a cabin larger in every direction; longer- taller and wider. Compared to the 50EX: the 2000’s 31.2 feet of interior length runs three feet longer; its height of 6.2 feet is about 5 inches taller; and the width of 7.7 feet adds a massive 19 inches width.

The Falcon 2000 business jet delivers great performance of 479 knots on the power of two Honeywell CFE 738-1-1B engines generating 5-900 pounds of thrust each. The fuel efficiency of these powerplants lets the 2000 cover as much as 3-000 nautical miles non-stop.

Gulfstream Aerospace Corp: G200 (Galaxy)
Introduced as the first model from a new company- the Galaxy in reality represented the latest model from a venerable manufacturer – marketed and supported by a new company. Not much doubt- though- that the new Galaxy was finding its niche- thanks to a quickly earned reputation as a fast- roomy- fuel-efficient aircraft and- best of all- for its value at about $20 million.

The name change did nothing to undercut this bird’s superlatives. The Gulfstream G200 jet remains competitively fast at Mach 0.85 on the 6-040 pounds of thrust from each of its P&WC PW306A engines- while also providing among the tallest and widest cabins in its class at 6.3 feet tall and 7.2 feet wide. With 24.5 feet in overall length- the cabin delivers space enough for an interior designed for eight to eighteen seats.

And the G200 still provides the ability to span more than 3-600 miles carrying a crew of two up front- four in the back cabin and luggage for all.

Gulfstream G100 (Astra SPX)
Still one of the mid-size band’s best values- the G100 today goes for a fraction under $12 million- while continuing to deliver the goods. The range is a comfortable continent-crossing distance of 2-800 nautical miles- and its 466 knots of speed still make those distances efficiently short.

These numbers result from the combination of the 4-250 pounds of thrust of two Honeywell TFE731 powerplants with the Gulfstream G100’s slim lines. Those lines cut drag while still delivering a generous cabin measuring in excess of 17 feet long- 5.6 feet high and 4.8 feet wide - space enough to handle seven to nine passengers- comfortably.

Among the older- more familiar models in this class- the Gulfstream G100 seems poised to retain the international customer base developed over its years even with another name.

Raytheon Aircraft: Hawker 800XP
The 'Hawker' name seems destined to remain with aviation for a long time to come thanks to its manufacturer - since the early 1990s - Raytheon Aircraft. Just as the arrival of the Hawker 800 and 1000 helped prompt a name change back in the early 1990s- so it’s expected to remain a viable model name regardless of what the manufacturer is called.

Today- the 800XP carries on the Hawker business jet aircraft tradition born in England more than four decades ago with value that keeps it selling. Raytheon improved on the 800 with a Hawker 800XP that provides more space for configurations to carry between eight and fifteen passengers.

The cabin today measures more than 21 feet long- 6 feet wide and 5.7 feet high. While wider inside than it used to be- the external dimensions remain unchanged and- thus- do nothing to hurt performance. The Hawker 800XP cruises at nearly 450 knots and needs only 2.5 hours to fly a 1-000nm leg. Power for the 800XP comes from a pair of 4-660 pound thrust TFE731-5BR engines from Honeywell. Ultimately the 800XP delivers this performance for about $13 million.

Developmental Models:
Excluding what new aircraft we learned of at the NBAA in September- here are the latest models coming down the developmental pipeline.

Cessna Aircraft: Citation Sovereign
First flight of the first Sovereign- Cessna’s newest mid-category jet- put the new mid-size contender well into the flight-test program- and if initial reports hold true- indicate that the company looks to have another winner in the wings.

The cabin stretches more than 28.1 feet in length and- offering 5.7 feet height and 5.5 feet width- provides space enough for a variety of roomy interior configurations. Capable of flying more than 2-800 nautical miles at speeds approaching 450 knots- the Cessna Citation Sovereign for sale promises true transcontinental performance.

The Sovereign flies on the power of a pair of P&WC PW306C fanjets- each making 5-686 pounds of thrust. The Sovereign’s combination of power- wing and weight combines to keep runway needs down to as little as 4-000 feet. Cessna expects certification later this year and first delivery early in 2003.

Bombardier Aerospace: Continental
The maker of Learjets- Challengers and the long-legged Global Express is finding new niches again- filling this latest one with the Continental- a new model that fits a spot occupied by no other models.

At more than 23 feet long- a vast 7.2 feet wide and with a full-sized galley and lavatory- the Continental offers more cross section at a more fuel-efficient length than other comparably contoured jets.

The $16 million-plus Continental uses two of Honeywell’s newest engines- (the AS 907)- each delivering more than 6-500 pounds of thrust for speeds upwards of 470 knots and fuel efficiency to allow legs exceeding 3-100 nautical miles.
With a pretty much flawless first flight- the program is progressing well and first deliveries should take place in 2003.

Dassault: Falcon 2000EX
Start with the proven Falcon 2000- upgrade the engines for better performance and improved fuel efficiency then increase fuel capacity and give the panel an equally forward-thinking update. That more or less describes the Falcon 2000EX now in Dassault’s development pipeline.

Dassault also improved fuel management and sensing by borrowing from the advanced EASy cockpit system employed in the large-class 900EX.

The debut installation of Pratt & Whitney Canada’s P&WC PW308C engine- developed specifically for this model- helps make the 2000EX a stronger contender in the super-mid class. The numbers seem to be there- with a cruise speed of 0.80 Mach- or about 450 knots- and a maximum range of 3-800 nautical miles.
Certification is expected shortly- and initial deliveries in early 2003.

Raytheon Aircraft: Hawker Horizon
It’s somewhat behind schedule although flying regularly- its ultimate completion date remains a little soft- but the final arrival of Raytheon’s cutting-edge Hawker Horizon appears certain. As a super mid-sized jet- the Horizon promises intercontinental performance and high speed without compromises in payload – thanks in large part to its innovative construction and manufacturing techniques.

The Horizon is Raytheon’s second model to sport a unique airframe made by merging a composite fuselage with an all-metal wing. That 'tow-wound' fuselage is responsible for the Horizon’s generous- cylindrical cabin- at 25 feet long and 6 feet in both width and height.

Capable of cruising 3-515 nautical miles at a maximum speed of 0.84 Mach- the Horizon is another mid-size jet with the ability to cover oceans and continents with ease. Power comes from two PW308A engines- each making 6-825 pounds of thrust.

Raytheon first tackled this technological leap with the trail-blazing Premier 1 certificated in March 2001 – another model delayed considerably by a variety of issues. First flight of the Horizon occurred late in 2000; certification originally was targeted for late this year; late in 2003 or early 2004 now looks likely.

Hawker 450
On hiatus – or suspended- depending on who answers the questions – this smaller version of the Horizon was introduced two years ago at the 2000 NBAA convention and put on the shelf earlier this year as the company worked to wrestle more control out of its business operations.

Nevertheless- if it returns- it should be a contender in its class- thanks to the same composite-fuselage technology as the Premier 1 and Horizon- a stand-up cabin that measures almost 6 feet high- proven Honeywell TFE731 powerplants- and a still-air range of more than 2-000 nautical at speeds up to Mach 0.80. Avionics will be Honeywell’s Primus Epic system.

This one is not flying and probably won’t be for some time after the company decides to resume work.

Fairchild-Dornier: Envoy 3
Business occasionally creates casualties- and the downturn in some markets blended with other financial issues put this company on the ropes- rendering it unable to proceed. Efforts to find a suitable merger suitor or an outright buyer have found no success. So it’s in limbo for this program.

Should it return- the Envoy 3 will still offer plentiful cabin for a value-level price. Based on the 328 propjet/jet- the Envoy 3 sports a main cabin measuring 34 feet in length- 6.2 feet tall and a 7.2-foot width. Cabin configurations range from eight to twelve passengers.

Priced at around $15 million- the Envoy provides 400 knots- a range of up to 1-800 nautical- and plenty of payload for the space.

That wraps up our mid-size examination. Next month- we examine the super-light category.

Read more about: Gulfstream G200 | Hawker 800XP | Cessna Citation Sovereign | Dassault Falcon 2000 | Bombardier Learjet 60 | Dassault Falcon 50 | Cessna Citation X | Medium Jet | Gulfstream G100 | Dassault Falcon 2000EX

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