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All queued and nowhere to go. Few experiences instil such powerful feelings of frustration and helplessness as those in which we float about between a gate and a lounge awaiting the long-overdue call to board a flight on a trip that has turned into the itinerary from Hades.

Dave Higdon   |   1st December 2003
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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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No time to spare for commercial air puts business aviation on long-range wings.

All queued and nowhere to go. Few experiences instil such powerful feelings of frustration and helplessness as those in which we float about between a gate and a lounge awaiting the long-overdue call to board a flight on a trip that has turned into the itinerary from Hades.

Sure- on the best of days the experience of commercial travel seems no worse than time spent navigating a major city via the underground world of its subway system. Crowded halls- choked entry and exit choke- packed cars. Anyone within sight of these pages likely owns a few fables of flabbergasted flying still able to re-ignite their frustrations when repeated during an ad hoc contest of tales at some far-from-the-airport watering hole.

Is avoiding the world of human mailing tubes to the benefit of sanity and efficiency not the ultimate enhancement of business aviation? Not that the more tangible advantages of speed- convenience and efficiency aren’t enough on their own.

Absolutely- speeding point-to-point- avoiding both hubs and spokes along the way- form some of the more-easily measurable advantages of the corporate aircraft. For many- relative costs also work out to the benefit of those making the trip. But truly- does anything make even the most-laborious trip on a business aircraft more enjoyable than the simple knowledge that you won’t go through 'that' again? To paraphrase a well-worn sports phrase- 'A bad day on a company airplane beats a good day on the airlines.'

Nowhere do the airline-bypass bennies better beat the air carriers than on long- multinational trips- the ones for which the airline passenger faces multiple plane changes- the jostling for bags and the luggage carousel- and the joys of enduring mass processing at the Immigration and Customs counters. It is for these trips that this month’s inventory of ultra-long range jets were invented.

Capable of leaping vast oceans in a single bound- of providing all the amenities of both office and hostelry- and of gaining the harried exec hours- sometimes days’ worth- of gains over the same itinerary flown commercially- these tools of business are the ultimate time machines.

As we see it:
Regular readers of our occasional series on the latest business-turbine equipment will likely remember how weight classes provide convenient guidelines for breaking down the various products into comparable classes. This grouping- however- spans such a vast range of weights that we depart from the practice of using pure tonnage as the arbiter of inclusion. Instead- the airplanes in this category vary greatly in size and weight- while sharing in the only trait required for membership… extremely long range.

And that 'extremely long' range we set at about 5-000 nautical miles – admittedly arbitrarily- but a point at which these birds depart from their hangar mates.

Just as gross weights play no role in defining this class we similarly avoid using cabin size as another arbiter. Price plays no role in our selection- acknowledging the fact that prices and sizes do not exactly parallel – and that members of this group stand as the highest-dollar private jets for sale made.

However- just as every successful business aircraft fulfills a mission for its owners- these jets provide a transportation option unavailable from any other group. Moreover- the popularity of these world-travelers seems destined to grow. According to Honeywell’s forecast of business jets for sale deliveries released at the NBAA Convention in October- the market stands ready to absorb more than 1-250 of the very long-range jets we profile this month. That is not shabby for a grouping non-existent just a decade ago- and for which critics expected a small- limited market.

Airbus Industries:

Once upon a time- airliners occasionally served as corporate jets after retiring from flying the line. Today two manufacturers offer three airliner variants as brand-new business jets- among them Airbus Industries’ ACJ319 Corporate Jet.

Just like its Boeing Business Jets counterparts- the ACJ provides interior space and completion options available only from a commercial aircraft airframe. A wide variety of tanking options allows the ACJ operator extreme flexibility in interior configuration – as well as the wonderful ability to swap out fuel tanks in favor of cabin payload.

Thanks to sporting the tallest – at 7.4 feet high – and widest fuselage in business aviation- entering an ACJ feels more like walking into a penthouse office or apartment – or even a wide-body jet – instead of what serves airlines as a single-aisle airliner. At its maximum- the ACJ exceeds 12 feet in width; at floor level- the cabin still measures a massive 11 across. Only its 78 feet in length prevents the ACJ from taking the prize for total cabin volume - the cabin-volume winner stretches 20 feet longer.

Conversely- with the ability to cover 6-100 nautical miles (with a crew and eight passengers)- the ACJ flies with the big birds where maximum range is the yardstick. Yet still the ACJ and its two BBJ counterparts trail the purpose-built business jets in range – but not by much- and certainly not proportional to the size advantage enjoyed by the ACJ.
Much of what makes the Airbus jet aircraft for sale appealing stems from its technology – evident in the fly-by-wire flight deck and solid-state panel – and its penetration among airlines around the world.

The success of Airbus’ focus on improving customer support- the benefits of reducing completion time and marketing gain from increasing availability all combine to keep the ACJ a contender against both the purpose-built and adaptive jets in this class. Figure close to $50 million to fly one home with all the comforts of a penthouse office and condo.

Boeing Business Jets (BBJ):
BBJ and BBJ2

When Boeing and General Electric launched the joint venture that produced the BBJ- the ‘doubter brigade’ turned out in force. 'It’s been tried before and failed-' was one mantra. Another noted- 'Airliner makers don’t know the market or how to sell to it.' The third- and last: 'There isn’t enough market to make the program viable for more than a handful of sales.'

Three swings- three strikes- as evidenced by the strength of the BBJ (and ACJ programs) nearing the end of the first decade for the program.

The first BBJ grew out of Boeing’s 737-700 airframe- while the second- longer BBJ2 used the 737-800 as its root platform. Indeed- the BBJ2 wins the biggest-cabin prize thanks to its 98.3 feet of length- 7.1 feet of height and 11.6 feet of width. The original BBJ is- by contrast- 'merely' 79.2 feet long- making it the third largest in this class.

The Boeing business jets for sale offers a non-stop range just above the 6-000-nautical-mile mark carrying our standard eight-passenger-and-luggage payload and crew. The BBJ2 gives up about 2-000 pounds of fuel to its longer- heavier airframe- yet remains a long-distance voyager with a maximum range of 5-600 nautical miles carrying the personnel payload.

Thanks to the 737’s long-held position as the world’s most-popular airliner- the BBJs both enjoy the benefits of widespread maintenance and spares depots- as well as a large pool of qualified flight and maintenance crew. The two BBJs also top the class in acquisition costs- at more than $50 million for the BBJ1 and $65 million for the BBJ2.

Bombardier Business Aircraft for sale:
Global Express

Going on a decade since Bombardier shaped an all-new class of business jet- the Global Express remains a dominant player- as it was upon launch nine years back… except today’s Global Express stands as the more senior of a pair of long-range business jets. As the elder member- the Global Express business jet for sale is headed toward retirement a couple of years hence- as evidenced by the unveiling of a follow-on model- the Global XRS- which we’ll highlight below.

Already in the wings and nearing certification is the Global 5000- a scaled-down version created to fill a gap between the Global Express jet aircraft for sale and Bombardier’s Challenger 604. Meanwhile near the bottom of the price range for this class – at about $44 million – today’s Global Express is anything but a low-end business jet thanks to a collection of capabilities that have kept it popular with operators.

Among those traits is the Global Express’ ability to fly more than 6-400 nautical miles with our eight-person business unit on board – and make that trip at a scorching Mach 0.89 – the fastest in its class.

For the eight on board- working and resting through those lengthy legs poses few constraints- thanks to a cabin length of 48.4 feet – a roomy bird- despite being the shortest in its class. With 6.3 feet in height and 8.3 feet in width- the Global Express provides all the space needed for stretching out for a nap or spreading out spreadsheet printouts.

Although a long-legged business bird- the Global Express isn’t a runway hog. It is able to fly from mile-long strips – a distance that illustrates another asset of the Global Express: The runway flexibility that comes from having within 50 feet of the shortest runway numbers in its class.

Further enhancing the Global Express’ operational versatility- the Global Express needs less than 8-000 feet of pavement when flying from airports such as Denver’s Centennial (about 5-000 feet msl) when the temperature hits a well-above-standard 25 degrees Celsius. Thanks to the realignment of its production and new shorter completion times in new facilities in Montreal- Bombardier’s class-maker is sold out well into 2005.

Gulfstream Aerospace:
G500 & G550

The other original member of the ultra-long-range jet class came from Gulfstream Aerospace in the form of the original GV – today’s 6-500-nautical mile G550. The G550 has a shorter-legged sibling- the 5-800-nautical-mile G500- a new contender in the competition for long-range jet sales.

The pairing amply illustrate the strong success Gulfstream has enjoyed with its long-distance haulers. Part of that formula for success is a cabin that both models share – one that stretches more than 50 feet in length while standing 6.2 feet high and spanning 7.3 feet in width.

Although the cabin is slimmer than its long-range classmates- that svelte style aids in the G550’s best-in-class range- as it does the G500’s shorter range on less fuel. Both helped shorten the time between two points with a top cruise speed of 0.88- near the best in class. Sea-level runway requirements of just over 6-100 feet make the G550 a competitive performer- while the 5-150 feet needed by the G500 is the best in class.

Thinking back to the dire predictions that the market could not support two contenders in this class- Gulfstream’s model-line expansion seems proof positive that even the best-informed forecasts sometimes come up short.

Coming soon to a ramp near you Bombardier Business Aircraft:
Global 5000

Starting with its highly successful Global Express- (as mentioned above) Bombardier redesigned a shorter version to help fill a niche between the original globetrotter and the company’s large-cabin Challenger 604 – the ‘downsized’ Global 5000.

Formally launched in February 2002- the $34 million 5000 also provides an interim price step between the Challenger for sale and the Global Express. The 5000 essentially came about by removing five feet of the Express’ 48-foot cabin – but otherwise uses the same cross-section. Bombardier also retained the engines- employing the same Rolls-Royce Deutschland BR710A2-20 that drive the Global Express.

The result is a smaller- lighter jet compared to the Global Express – but one still capable of covering 4-850 nautical miles. While slightly below our range break- the Global 5000 remains a contender in the competition among long-distance cruisers.

The first prototype has been flying since early 2003 and a second is due to soon join the flight-test program in Wichita. Certification remains on-track for the first quarter of 2004- with the first batch of airplanes for sale going to work for customers later in the year.

Global XRS
Bombardier only made known its plans for a Global Express follow-on back in October- during the NBAA convention in Orlando. Just as the original Global Express helped blaze a new trail for business aviation- the XRS promises to break new ground for operators.

Among its promises- a new- longer range at a higher speed: 6-500 nautical miles at Mach 0.82- the product of a fuel-quantity increase of 1-486 pounds. But Bombardier couldn’t offer only the greater range at higher speed (the original Global Express promised 6-500 miles at Mach 0.8) and call the XRS a new model.

In addition to better range and higher speeds- the XRS also offers other improvements in take-off performance- avionics systems and passenger comfort. For example- the standard flight deck of the XRS will feature the Bombardier Enhanced Vision system to provide pilots with greater capabilities and higher safety margins in low-visibility conditions.

The XRS will deliver a higher pressurization ratio that provides passengers with a 4-500-foot cabin when flying at FL450 – and maintains a 5-700-foot atmosphere when cruising at the XRS’ certified service ceiling- FL510.

Another passenger enhancement is the enlargement of the cabin windows and the addition of two more windows total- opening up the workspace to more light and improved visibility.

Bombardier’s design team also promises that the XRS will allow for a higher weight in cabin furnishings while staying within maximum operating weights. The 1-800 pound increase in cabin-finish allowance gives interior-completion designers 7-800 pounds total within which they can work their magic.

The XRS also promises better runway performance- as well as improved hot-and-high flexibility- as standard. The first customer airplanes should be entering service in early 2006- with a finished price expected to run in the range of $45.5 million- or about $2 million more than today’s Global Express.

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