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Aloft above the Atlantic- one really must experience the productivity of using a giant-economy size business aircraft for traversing the vast expanses of the world in pursuit of healthy commerce and free enterprise. It’s almost as if you have all the comforts of a condo/office capable of moving you at more than 500 mph – while you work- shower- eat and sleep.

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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Wide Open Spaces

The expanding realm of the biggest Bizjets widens the reach of global business.

Aloft above the Atlantic- one really must experience the productivity of using a giant-economy size business aircraft for traversing the vast expanses of the world in pursuit of healthy commerce and free enterprise. It’s almost as if you have all the comforts of a condo/office capable of moving you at more than 500 mph – while you work- shower- eat and sleep.

For executives and government officials in need of keeping face-to-face appointments up to 6-000 miles from base- the security and convenience of private jets reduces stresses and strains that accompany travel by commercial carrier.

There are no crowds of strangers to deal with- no multiple security checkpoints to clear- no layovers to endure nor connections to make – or possibly miss.

The realm of the ultra-long range business jet may be for only a relative few- but judging by the successes of the jets  we review here- the pool of those in need appears larger than any critic originally believed back nearly a decade ago when the first of this class initially emerged into public view.

They are- at the same time- the smallest class in terms of numbers- and the biggest class in terms of capabilities- size and costs. These are truly the giants of business aviation- and they helped seal the notion of private aircraft as a global player on the world’s business scene.

The Class Rules
By way of explanation- the airplanes in the category may vary in size by a considerable margin – but they all share in the one trait we are using to define the class: Ultra-long range. By that we mean the ability to cruise at least 5-000 nautical miles in a normal configuration with an executive load in the cabin.

Gross weights – whether max ramp or max take-off – do not figure into this class definition. Likewise- neither is cabin size an arbiter- as you’ll see. Interestingly- the price range of these jets for sale varies by millions of dollars- but all rank among the most expensive private jets  ever offered to the public.

There are few limitations we know of on who gets to buy – the ability to cover the costs is the only limitation. Yet thanks to the work of some fractional operators- there are entry paths into ownership of an ultra-long range business jet that brings the price down to a level commensurate with some mid- and light-category business jets.

Overall- as we noted above- the prices here put these jets into the realm of 'If you have to ask (the price)- you probably can’t afford one.' But if you happen to be someone who doesn’t need to check their credit to make a decision- owning one of these used aircraft for sale could certainly change your travel habits – if not your life.

Without further ado lets move on to the contenders.

Airbus Industries
ACJ Airliner & Regional Aircraft 

As one of three airliner variants available- the Airbus Corporate Jet offers space and interior options available only in an airliner airframe.. Thanks to a variety of tanking options- the ACJ offers customers flexibility in configuration and the ability to exchange fuel capacity for cabin payload capabilities.

Furthermore- with the tallest- widest cabin in its class- it almost feels as though you’re walking into a wide-body jet rather than what serves as a single-aisle airliner for so many customers around the world. The ACJ’s width exceeds 12 feet at its maximum- 11 feet at floor level- with the overhead a towering 7.4 feet high. With its cabin 78 feet in length- the ACJ comes in second in cabin total-volume; the larger jet needs 20 more feet of cabin length to take the size prize.

Boasting a maximum range of 6-100 nautical miles carrying eight passengers- the ACJ flies neck-and-neck with its airliner-based competitors- but all three of the airliner-based models trail the range capabilities of the purpose-built business jets in the class.

Still- Airbus boasts some advantages that have helped the ACJ’s appeal to nearly a score of customers. Top among those advantages is the vast- roomy- highly integrated flight deck- where the fly-by-wire technology provides the major difference with its competitors.

Throw in Airbus’ recent move to improve customer support- to reduce completion time and to increase availability- and the ACJ could become a contender for passing up some of its competitors in flying numbers. Figure upwards of $48 million to fly one home.

Boeing Regional Jets
BBJ1 and BBJ2

It took a partnership venture between The Boeing Co. and General Electric to bring an airliner-variant into this class of business jet aircraft- the original BBJ- based on Boeing’s 737-700 airframe. Despite some nay-sayers in the industry – voices that expressed doubt that the market could support a third model in this class – sales proved not only stronger than expected- they also proved the concept itself popular enough to attract a fourth company- Boeing’s transatlantic competitor- Airbus.

In fact- demand for the BBJ aircraft for sale proved strong enough to spawn a follow-on model- the BBJ2 – for those who want even more from an ultra-long range jet. With the 737-800-based BBJ2- you get the biggest cabin in the class at 98.3 feet long- 7.1 feet high and 11.6 feet wide. By comparison- the BBJ1 is a 'mere' 79.2 feet in length- with the same height and width.

The original-model BBJ just breaks the 6-000-nautical-mile barrier by a few miles when carrying our standard eight-passenger-and-luggage payload. The BBJ2- with about 2-000 pounds less fuel to burn- still retains the ability to deliver a staggering 5-600 nautical miles with the same load.

Perhaps the two biggest advantages going for the BBJ are its popularity as an airliner. The New Generation 737 continues the 737’s tradition as the world’s best-selling airliner. That means finding qualified crew and maintenance facilities are easier than many other business jet aircraft for sale- regardless of the plane’s location around the globe.

At more than $50 million for the BBJ1 and $65 million for the BBJ2- these birds also lead the class in price. Nonetheless- sales remain strong and stable- according to the company.

Bombardier Business Aircraft
Global Express

Bombardier’s Global Express helped define what was a brand-new class upon its launch eight years ago. Today- the Global Express is both a source of enormous corporate pride and an example of how well a program can work when one company involves several of its operating units and a number of risk-sharing partners.

The success of the Global also spawned a scaled-down version that helped fill a gap between it and Bombardier’s Challenger 604- the Global 5000 you’ll read about below.

At about $44 million- the Bombardier Global Express for sale is at the low end of the price range among models already in-service with operators – a pool that puts this bird in the middle of the class- popularity wise- but there’s nothing middle-of-class about the Global Express’ performance.

For example- the Global Express can carry our eight-person business unit across legs exceeding 6-400 nautical miles at a speedy Mach 0.89 – the best in the class. Those eight business people shouldn’t find it hard to work comfortably in a cabin that stretches 48.4 feet in length – the shortest in this class. At 6.3 feet high and 8.3 feet wide- the executives have plenty of space for spreading out their work and stretching out for a nap.

The Global Express also offers the shortest runway performance- at exactly one mile – 5-280 feet. This opens up more fields to its use than any of its competition. Furthermore- that best-in-class runway performance remains at those hot-and-high field elevations known to interfere with an airplane’s otherwise top-notch abilities. At 5-000 feet msl and with the outside temperature at 25 degrees Celsius- the Global Express still manages a take-off distance of only 7-880 feet.

Bombardier has also been working to shorten completion times and to improve on completion rates with new facilities in Montreal- which means Bombardier can quickly set you up with one of your own.

Gulfstream Aerospace

Originally known as the GV- the G500 was the other airplane to launch this new class with the Global Express- and what a success it has been – so much so that sales of the GV/G500 lead the class.

Like the other contenders in this category- the space available for a flying office is top notch. The GV cabin stretches just over 50 feet in length- with the ceiling 6.2 feet off the floor and the maximum width at 7.3 feet – the narrowest in class.

Those slim dimensions help give this $44 million jet all the more speed- boasting an enviable non-stop range of 6-400 nautical miles with our mobile business crew of eight. It manages your time well too with a cruise speed of 0.88- near the top of the class.

Sea-level runway requirements of just over 6-100 feet place the GV/G500 second in its class- however- when it comes to experience and support- few companies come to the market with the depth of Gulfstream- thanks to its historical development lines from the original G1 propjet through the GIV that preceded the GV.

Of course- anything as good as the GV usually wins fans who want something slightly bigger or faster – a demand that Gulfstream is covering with the GV-SP/G550 that we’ll address below.

On the Drawing Boards – more long-legged flyers
Falcon 7X

If you’ve wondered where France’s premier business-jet maker has been through the ultra-long range revolution- Dassault has provided an answer: Researching and developing- and the result of this work was launched at the 2001 Paris Salon in Le Bourget- the Falcon 7X jets for sale.

As you might expect by its inclusion in this group- Dassault promises that 7X owners will enjoy the ability to cross vast sections of the Earth in a single leg – up to a maximum of 5-700 nautical miles worth- carrying eight passengers.

Dassault evolved the 7X out of the same fuselage dimensions as the successful mid-size 900EX- with a maximum height of 6 feet- 2-inches and a maximum width of 7 feet- 8 inches. However- a cabin eight feet longer than the 900EX’s 39 feet puts the 7X in a size class closely matching Bombardier’s Global Express.

Aside from the similar fuselage cross-section dimensions- however- the 7X shares little with its stable mates. For example- the 7X sports a new transonic wing design that lends to a high degree of fuel and aerodynamic efficiency.

The 7X departs from the Falcon 900EX jet aircraft for sale in powerplant choice- too. Dassault tapped Pratt & Whitney Canada’s 6-100-pound thrust PW307A engines. The wing-and-engine combo helps give the 7X its long legs as well as its best-in-class high cruise speed numbers: Mach 0.9.

Up in the front office- Dassault plans a version of its EASy flight deck sporting four 14-inch flat-panel displays and- a first for a business jet- fly-by-wire flight controls. Across the board- this should be a cutting-edge plane.

Dassault expects the 7X to hit the airways as a test bed in 2005 and as a working airplane the following year- and customers are already lined up to snag the early versions of this hot new long-range jet.

Bombardier Business Aircraft
Bombardier Global 5000

A 'downsized' version of Bombardier’s Global Express jet- the Global 5000 won formal launch in February 2002 as a design to fill the gap between the company’s flagship globe-trotter and the biggest of its mid-size offerings- the Challenger 604. At about $33 million- the 5000 also occupies a sweet spot in the pricing arena.

Shortened by five feet- the 5000 otherwise sports the same cabin cross-section as its bigger sibling. Bombardier also opted for the same powerplants- the Rolls-Royce Deutschland BR710A2-20 that makes more than 14-000 pounds of thrust in the Global Express jet..

With a crew of three and eight passengers- the 5000 offers a range of 4-800 nautical – the shortest in our class but head-and-shoulders above any mid-size designs.

First flight is slated for the first quarter of 2003; certification is expected a year later- with initial customer airplanes entering service later in 2004.

Gulfstream Aerospace
G550 business jets

Launched a year ago as the GV-SP- this follow-on to the highly successful GV will come to market as the Gulfstream G550 – a slightly more-capable variant of its original incarnation.

Among the results of several model and powerplant tweaks is a still-air range exceeding any other offering in this class – a whopping 6-700 nautical miles- or more than 7-700 statute miles- making even into-the-wind flights to the far side of the globe mere one-stop trips.

Expected to enter deliveries next year- the G550/GV-SP commands about $46 million – putting it in the middle of the class- price wise.

Read more about: Gulfstream G550 | Gulfstream G500 | Boeing BBJ | Dassault Falcon 7X | Bombardier Global 5000 | Airbus ACJ | BBJ1 | BBJ2 | Bombardier Global Express

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