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Mid-class choices continue to expand.

Dave Higdon   |   1st September 2005
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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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Mid-class choices continue to expand.

If you’re like most people you love choices; for many of us- the more choices- the better. So imagine how great business jet buyers must feel finding that the market provides so many options spanning a spectrum of needs. In terms of segments alone- business aviation offers solutions in five categories: Very Light and Light segments at the lower end; Mid- and Large-Cabin in the middle; and the Ultra-Large Cabin/Ultra-Long Range group at the very top - and every category offers its own variety.

Interestingly- the fewest options exist in the two segments at the extreme ends of business aviation – the Very Light and Ultra-Large/Ultra-Long Range groups. Between the extremes exists a vast swath in which the majority of models reside – and smack in the middle of those three groups we find the greatest variety belong to the mid-cabin segment.

A total of 14 different models populate this update on the mid-cabin (or mid-weight) segment of private jet sales. Although the lines blur a bit between the largest 'lights' and the smallest 'mids-' the field of options available among the medium class corporate jets for sale remains the broadest of all corporate aircraft segments.

Obviously- fourteen is a lot of variety for operators who share a common need for jets capable of flying at least 1-500 nautical mile at speeds around or higher than Mach 0.8. Nearly two-thirds of the group can go at least 3-000 miles; a few can fly farther than 3-500 nautical miles – ocean-spanning distances that make a one-stop proposition out of connecting far flung corners of the globe.

Between about 20-000 and approximately 40-000 pounds- the aircraft for sale in this group wear seven brands from five manufacturers- carrying price tags from the mid-$8 million range to more than $26 million. Similarly- they offer diversity in cabin size and operating costs commensurate with their weights.

However- in terms of carrying their charges across far-flung destinations at high speeds- these jets can get the job done. With a group this large with this much variety- it’s difficult to imagine a potential buyer unable to find at least one airplane for sale to match their needs.

Mid-Size jets defined – roughly

While class-consciousness in human interactions seldom wins much public support- when the interaction is with members of the business aviation community- aircraft class-awareness provides a useful way to break down the discussion.

This class sometimes wears different badges: mid-size- mid-weight- medium-category; some manufacturers employ additional adjectives like 'Super-' or 'Light-' to give a model something more to distinguish it from an admittedly large pack. None of the labels employed adequately frame the wide breadth and depth of a group encompassing jets separated by tens of thousands of pounds- multiple millions of dollars and hundreds of cubic feet in cabin space.

To manage this group more easily- we identified a range of designs defined closely by a low-end weight of 20-000 pounds and a high-end limit of about 40-000 pounds at MTOW. Last month we relegated to our Light Jet review three jets that weigh marginally above 20-000 pounds because they didn’t break 21-000; this month we include in this group one design that breaks 40-000 pounds by 1-500 pounds because it’s a same-airframe-but-higher-performance version of a very-Medium model.

So across the vast distances between price- speed- range and cabin size- here are the 14 jets that best define the Mid-Size Jet class.


Learjet 40XR & 45XR

The Learjet 40XR was unveiled last year as a higher-performance variant of Bombardier’s newest- smallest and least-expensive Learjet. Itself a derivative of the cutting-edge Learjet 45 for sale- the 40 brought a smaller cabin and lower price to the light market; however- the 40XR and 45XR models up the performance ante to a level more like their mid-weight kin- yet in airframes decidedly light.

Both Learjet XR models benefit from the clean-sheet design effort Bombardier undertook in creating the 45 – the first all-new Learjet since the original model 23 of 1963. The 40XR and 45XR sport the same cabin and panel as the original models; one type rating covers both XR models. An upgrade to Honeywell’s TFE731-20BR powerplants from the –20AR version delivers the two XRs performance gains: In climb- high-altitude thrust- hot-and-high performance and speed. Coupling that powerplant improvement with a gross weight increase of 1-000 pounds for the 45XR and 650lbs for the 40XR – directly translatable into a 1-000-pound and 650 pound gain respectively in full-fuel payload – gives these near-identical twins efficiency unmatched in the class. Weighing in at 21-000 pounds- the 40XR boasts a cabin 17.7 feet long – two feet shorter than the 45XR- which tips the scale a full 500 pounds heavier at 21-500 pounds. The 40XR provides space for up to seven in the cabin- while the 45XR can be configured for as many as nine.

The Learjet 40XR delivers a nominal cruise range exceeding 1-600 nautical miles carrying crew and four passengers- with NBAA IFR reserves. Meanwhile- the 45XR also delivers performance commensurate with the ‘Learjet’ name- with a four-in-cabin range approaching 2-000 nautical miles. Both can push the airspeed indicator to nearly 470 knots true – above Mach 0.8 – and fly as high as any civil jet at FL510. For all these Learjet traits- expect to spend about $8.4 million for a 40XR; the larger 45XR goes for about $10.9 million. Make no mistake- although they offer the smallest cabins in this weight class- these Learjets give up nothing in performance to their larger classmates.

Learjet 60 for sale

Still the largest Learjet- the Learjet 60 is a long-time member of the medium-weight class of private jets for sale. Today the Learjet 60 remains appealing through an enviable blend of cabin size- purchase cost- operating efficiency and Learjet performance – and its veteran status belies its up-to-date performance.

Able to cruise beyond 450 knots true- the Learjet 60 personifies Learjet performance. Its service ceiling of FL510 is a Learjet benchmark that gives operators options unavailable to airplane owners constrained by lower altitude limitations.

Combine the speed and altitude performance with a cruise range around 2-400 nautical and it’s easy to see why the Learjet 60 remains in demand. Whether faced with crossing the North Atlantic or merely North America- this bizjet provides the reach needed.

The 4-600 pounds of thrust from the powerful Pratt & Whitney Canada PW305A engines make possible 13-minute climbs to FL370- and 1-000-mile flights in under 2 hours 30 minutes to reinforce the Learjet heritage. At each end- the Learjet 60 needs about 5-400 feet of runway for departure; a low Vref of 130 knots with four on board allows the Learjet 60 to use as little as 3-000 feet for landing. Indeed- for a jet priced around $12.5 million- the Learjet 60 offers depth of value few other competitors can match.

CHALLENGER 300 for sale

Arguably as trouble-free and smooth as any new business aircraft product offering- the Bombardier Challenger 300 is nearing two years in service with a record equal to its development performance. Since first deliveries in late 2003- this aircraft for sale remains as popular and attractive as ever.

Part of the reason for its success is its market placement - the Challenger 300 serves as a cost-effective move up for light jet operators ready to grow- as well as an attractive new alternative for current medium jet operators ready for something different. For example- it boasts some of the best airport numbers of its class- needing 4-810 feet for take off and a mere 2-600 feet for landing – outstanding performance given the average mid weight jet’s needs. Between runways the Challenger 300 delivers maximum speed of 470 knots of high-speed cruise. Honeywell’s new HTF 7000 turbofans provide the push thanks to their 6-826 pounds of thrust- and they do so with efficiency enough to make non-stop flights of up to 3-100 nautical miles – carrying eight passengers- plus crew.

The Challenger 300 provides this performance with a true mid-size cabin measuring 6.1 feet high- 7.2 feet wide and 28.6 feet long – a spacious 860 cubic feet of cabin space. The price for these capabilities: about $18.3 million. á More information from www.aero.bombardier.com

CESSNA Citation Sovereign for sale

Cessna’s newest medium category jet for sale continues to win buyers thanks to its combination of high performance and moderate price.

Cessna incorporated a cabin shape similar to the speed-champion Citation X- at 5.7 feet high and 5.5 feet long - but the Sovereign offers considerably more space thanks to an overall length 16 inches longer than the Citation X. Those 25.3 feet of cabin provide a boost in legroom and plenty of space for passengers to stretch out.

Cessna developed an all-new wing for the Sovereign that provides the slippery aerodynamics needed to cruise at nearly 460 knots behind the power of two 5-770-pound-thrust Pratt & Whitney Canada PW306C engines. The efficiency of those powerplants allows the Sovereign to make legs longer than 2-800 nautical miles while the thrust enables use of runways as short as 3-580 feet.

This no-compromises transcontinental range and high cruise speed- combined with a state-of-the-art cockpit make the Sovereign a player in its segment – buoyed further by its $15 million price tag.

Citation X for sale

Still the speed champ of business aviation after a decade in service- the Citation X remains distinctive in both its appearance and performance. With a top cruise speed of Mach 0.92 – more than 500 knots true – and a range that exceeds 3-000 nautical with full fuel- the Citation X has no parallel in the corporate fleet.

Indeed- with a full cabin- the Citation X still delivers true transcontinental cruise capability at a maximum range of 2-886 nautical. Such speeds provide operators with the ability to fly the North American continent twice in a day while keeping the crew below recommended flight-time limitations- thanks to crossing times as much as an hour faster than its closest competitors.

Repeat buyers of the upgraded Citation X provide graphic testimony of the jet’s operator appeal – particularly thanks to the 2002 upgrade to payload (plus 400 pounds)- and engine power (up 5 percent).

The Allison AE3007C1 engines employed on the Citation X generate 6-764 pounds of thrust- power enough to give the Citation X climb times of 18 minutes to FL370 - even airliners fall behind these numbers.

Cessna’s largest Citation offers a slim mid-size cabin at 23.5 feet in length- 5.7 feet in height and 5.5 feet in width.

Cessna essentially gambled that the Citation X’s blend of high speed and long range would attract the most-demanding operators in business aviation. The proof of that wisdom has come in the form of the upgrades of three years ago- the already mentioned lengthy list of repeat customers- and continued demand from new buyers alike. And even with the demand and the upgrades- Cessna continues to keep the price comfortably below $20 million.

More information from www.cessna.com

DASSAULT Falcon 50EX for sale

Known for decades for its triple-engine Falcon models- Dassault remains the sole manufacturer of private jets for sale with three powerplants. The 50EX typifies those Dassault models- one aimed at missions and operators for which the extra redundancy is a major draw.

The latest incarnation of the long running Falcon 50 series- the 50EX provides operators with unrestricted capabilities for oceanic crossings and international travel due to the trio of Honeywell’s 3-700-pound-thrust TFE731-40 powerplants.

With a load of eight passengers and a crew of two- the 50EX easily manages missions exceeding 3-000 nautical miles. The solid-state Collins’ Pro Line EFIS panel makes crew management of the aircraft as easy as possible in such a complex machine.

Stretching a full 28 feet long- standing 5.8 feet high and spanning 6.1 feet in width- the 50EX easily handles all eight of those passengers. And Dassault offers cabin configurations for as many as 19 for business shuttle missions.

The capability to operate from runways as short as 5-000 feet adds to the Falcon 50EX’s flexibility- as well. The cruise speed available – a smoking 480 knots – gives the 50EX the ability to make short work of the longest legs. Indeed- the combination of power- payload and speed give the Falcon 50EX tremendous flexibility in deploying that payload- while the reliability of the systems incorporated into the 50EX give operators confidence that their missions will fly on time almost every time.

The price for the 50EX’s degree of speed- comfort and reliability comes in at about $21.5 million; the peace of mind from triple-power is standard- and alone in its class.

Falcon 2000 for sale

Dassault’s twin-engine mid-cabin alternative not only offers plenty of cabin space- speed- range and comfort- but it does so in a package that lacks nothing for its passengers. For example- the Falcon 2000 offers space enough for seating configurations from eight to 19 passengers- thanks to its cabin- a space larger than the 50EX in all dimensions. That cabin measures 31.2-foot-long – about three feet longer than the 50EX – as well as an extra 5 inches in height and 19 inches in width that makes the cabin an expansive 7.7 feet wide.

The fuel-efficient 5-900-pound-thrust Honeywell CFE 738-1-1B powerplants employed provide speeds of nearly 480 knots - among the fastest in its class.

The blend of the engines and airframe allow the Falcon 2000 to cover more than 3-000 nautical nonstop.

That Honeywell power also means the Falcon 2000 can access airports as short as 5-400 feet. The price for this blend of size- speed and range comes in at about $24.3 million.

Falcon 2000EX for sale

One step up from the Falcon 2000 we find the enhanced 2000EX- a model that shares the airframe of the 2000- but is capable of operating at a gross weight of 41-500 – or 1-500 pounds above our artificial cutoff for the mid-weight class.

Similar to other manufacturers- Dassault found demand for more of everything from customers of the original 2000 – with enough of them interested in the upgrades to support a separate model. Consequently- even though they share an airframe – including the cabin and its dimensions – the 2000EX sports enough differences to support the designation. Among the differences: The 2000EX employs two 7-000-pound thrust Pratt & Whitney Canada PW308C engines – the first airframe to cash in on their higher power and improved fuel efficiency. The engines allow the 2000EX to cover legs as long as 3-800 nautical miles at speeds as high as 482 knots true. These numbers are courtesy of the greater power – which allows the 2000EX to carry more fuel- and for its higher take-off weight – as well as improved fuel efficiency for the trip.

The engines also give the Falcon 2000EX a slight edge in runway performance over the 2000- despite the 5-500 pounds of extra weight the EX version carries at take off. Dassault not only opted for all-new engines developed specifically for the 2000EX- the company also gave the airplane its cutting-edge EASy instrument panel. Originally developed for the 900EX- the EASy flight deck system provides the crew with the ability to easily monitor and manage the aircraft and its systems.

For a jet for sale singularly distinct in its blend of space and speed- you’ll spend about $24.8 million.

More information from www.dassaultfalcon.com

GULFSTREAM G100 for sale

Not far from the Learjet 60 in size or price- Gulfstream’s smallest mid-class jet remains an attractive option for the operator in need of solid performance and excellent reach – at a value price. At a list price of $11.9 million- the G100 has speed- range and comfort at levels that make it a value leader.

Capable of cruising up to 470 knots- the G100 can run with the best; capable of spanning 2-700 nautical miles non-stop- the G100 also provides range comfortably within the mid-class neighborhood. And the G100 provides passenger comfort belied by its slim lines.

The G100’s cabin stretches more than 17 feet in length- stands 5 feet 7 inches tall and spans 4 feet 9 inches in width for an ample 367 cubic feet of cabin that allows Gulfstream to offer configurations for as many as seven. Thanks to the proven power of two 4-250-pounds-thrust Honeywell TFE731-40R-200G powerplants- the G100 also offers reliability and efficiency that provide their own form of value.

Gulfstream G200 for sale 

The G200 may be one of the most-attractive values in business jet sales thanks to its distinct blend of size- performance and price.

For example- the G200 cabin offers among the largest cross-section dimensions in its class at 6 feet 3 inches tall and 7 feet 2 inches across. Stretching a full 24 feet 5 inches in length gives the G200 cabin the flexibility for configurations seating as many as 18- or for an office-suite cabin for eight.

Despite its unusually large cross section- however- the G200 offers a fuel-efficient ride on legs as long as 3-400 nautical with four passengers and two crew – plus luggage. The G200 can cross continents at speeds of up to 470 knots- yet still land in as little as 3-280 feet. Credit for its excellent performance belongs to both the sleek original design of the G200- as well as its two 6-040-pounds-thrust P&WC PW306A engines from Pratt & Whitney Canada- which allow the jet to operate at altitudes as high as 45-000 feet.

Gulfstream keeps the value orientation alive with a G200 list price a little over $21.4 million.

Future G: The G150 Flying

Less than three years after unveiling at the 2002 NBAA convention its newest design- Gulfstream Aerospace hit its marks earlier this year with the maiden flight of the new G150. So far- the jet – destined to replace the G100 – is performing up to expectations with certification expected in the first quarter of 2006.

The G150 sports a new cabin reworked from the G100- while retaining the G100 wing. Gulfstream expanded the G100 fuselage by 2 inches in height- plus a foot in width- to increase cabin volume more than 25 percent to 465 cubic feet.

The company also raised fuel capacity and picked up a small gain of almost 200 pounds of engine thrust from the Honeywell TFE 731-40R engines. The higher 4-420 pounds of thrust helps offset a commensurate increase in operating weights from the cabin growth.

As expected- the G150 is proving its ability to carry a broader range of payloads across longer legs than the G100. The G150 speeds along at a top cruise of Mach 0.85- or about 470 knots while offering a maximum range of about 2-700 nautical carrying four and crew at a nominal cruise speed of 430 knots.

With a list price of $13.5 million- the G150 promises to fuel an already hot market segment.

More information from www.gulfstream.com

RAYTHEON Hawker 800XPi for sale

Good designs never go out of style- and thanks to upgrades made over a decade- Raytheon’s Hawker 800XPi continues to attract customers for its blend of size- performance and price.

With a cabin that measures more than 21 feet long- 6 feet wide and 5.7 feet high- the 800XPi provides space enough for cabin configurations of eight to 10 seats (and is certified for up to 15) – a marked improvement Raytheon engineers eked out of the original Hawker 800 without changing the exterior.

Leaving the original external lines intact allows the two 4-660-pound-thrust Honeywell TFE731-5BR powerplants to still efficiently produce a cruise speed of nearly 450 knots. Not only can the 800XPi fly a 1-000-nautical leg in just 2.5 hours- it can start that trip from runways as short as 5-088 feet at its 28-800-pound maximum take-off weight –and still cover 3-400 nautical miles non-stop with four in back.

The 800XPi’s 41-000-st.msl service ceiling keeps it well above most weather and its price helps round out the value- at about $13.5 million.

Hawker Horizon for sale

Its type certificate in hand- the Hawker Horizon is entering service for a list of customers patient enough to wait out the lengthy delays that plagued the program launched back in the late 1990s. But given the Horizon’s distinct blend of technology and construction- the performance is likely making those customers congratulate themselves on their patience.

For example- the Horizon stands as the second Raytheon model to employ a new form of construction- one that blends a lightweight- roomy composite fuselage with metal wing construction unique to the company. Raytheon’s Beechcraft Premier I light jet pioneered the techniques and technologies employed in the Horizon.

With a composite fuselage of carbon-fiber ribbons wound over a metal mandrel- the structure needs none of the reinforcement structure required by metal-fuselage structures. As a result- the Horizon offers more interior space than possible with the same outside dimension in a metal fuselage.

The cylindrical cabin stretches 25 feet in length- 6 feet in height and 6.5 feet across. Similarly- the composite fuselage also gives the Horizon a relatively light empty weight – about 800 pounds lighter empty than its competitor closest to its size – improving both payload and fuel efficiency.

With a maximum range of about 3-500 nautical and a maximum cruise of 470 knots- the Horizon provides operators reach for crossing continents or oceans with equal ease. A pair of P&WC PW308A engines provide the 6-900 pounds of thrust each needed to push the airframe to the Horizon’s speed- as well as the efficiency needed to cover the distance. For just under $19 million- the Horizon should be popular for many years to come.

More information from www.raytheonaircraft.com

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