Full Size Flying
Large cabin jets expand capabilities of private flying.
Pretty much every aircraft is a compromise… a series of compromises- according to many aircraft designers and engineers. When working backwards from a set of desired traits- designers typically do their own weight-and-balance trade-offs among those traits to arrive at a product that- it is hoped- provides the best possible combination of solutions.
Of course- they also earnestly want customers to recognize the wisdom of- and embrace the design for their products blend of traits (including speed- economy- range- space- runway capabilities- and ownership costs). In some ways- these traits- generally inherent in our class of large jets- seem to present fewer compromises when viewed through the lens of the typical mission profile of the typical business mission. Large business jets- as implied by the category label- offer passengers more space- greater comfort and greater flexibility than smaller aircraft capable of carrying the same industry-average load over the same industry-average stage lengths- and at speeds similar enough to render differences of small to inconsequential minutes.
Among the trade-offs- those pesky compromises are higher acquisition- ownership and use costs relative to flying large as opposed to flying medium or light on the same missions. Another noteworthy factor might include the potential for longer runway requirements- which limit airport choices- and thus destination planning. Crew costs may also increase. But in exchange- the reach of the jet also increases- sometimes significantly.
Cruise-speed gains are not a general benefit of going large – the large and medium jets- and some light jets- tend to cruise at similar enough speeds. The large jet- however- may reach final altitude faster and provide improvements in cabin-technologies such as in-flight entertainment or high-speed data link. But overall- the most notable benefit of flying full-sized is that larger cabin.
An average group of four to six business people traveling together on an average stage length can enjoy more space to spread out- more options for huddling up for an aerial meeting- more galley capabilities- and a generously-sized lavatory. It’s on those above-average legs where the larger jet truly comes into its own and delivers in ways smaller jets cannot. With room for even those of above-average stature to get up and move around at their full height- to doze off separated from others who may be talking- to partake of more than minimal sustenance- the comfort factor should not be underestimated when the travelers must arrive fresh- and ready to work.
For some operators- however- fitting the large jet to carry higher-density passenger loads – without sacrificing plentiful per-seat space – is a cost-effective solution for the need to move large numbers of people around the country on a regular basis. So while a large jet may impose compromises in some areas- in terms of comfort and cabin flexibility- there are only a few ultra-large jets that offer much more – but with their own set of compromises and financial sacrifices.
What makes a “Large” a large jet?
As you’ll see from reading prior round-up articles on light and medium jets- making class distinctions at the light end has become a little foggy. Thankfully- though- the development of new smaller genres of business jets has done nothing to muddy the class distinctions we employ to review this year’s class of large jets.
As we approach the large jets segment- the definition holds more precisely. In keeping with years past- we consider a large cabin jet to be any model with a Maximum Gross Take-Off Weight from 40-000 pounds to 80-000 pounds.
Those parameters hold well for this segment- as do operational marks such as transcontinental range- modern digital avionics and modern- digitally controlled powerplant systems.
While the entry fee for this segment may seem untenable to some- aircraft of the capabilities of these large jets for sale will always be in dement by that significant segment of the population capable and willing to bear the costs to guarantee the privacy- security and comfort amply provided by large-cabin jets.
Beyond those who own such jets is another segment of their peer group happy to charter or lease a large jet available through an aircraft management group – many times a business representing a large jet owner looking to maximize the investment.
With this much capability to offer- it’s no wonder that many an owner let their aerial asset help earn some of its keep generating revenue as a charter mount when not immediately needed by that owner.
It’s only because this group offers airplanes suitable for a variety of needs- wants and budgets that they continue to command the interests of a wide variety of individuals and companies. Read on and see what we mean.
BOMBARDIER: Challenger 605 business jet
This excellent design continues the success of the original Challenger of more than a quarter century ago- and does so with aplomb- by improving on that which made the original a success while also incorporating the latest technological advances for crew and passengers. It’s as it has been since the first Canadair Challenger because that first of the line offered a spacious cabin equipped to provide the travelers with the best in contemporary office technology. As it was then it remains today.
That wide- airy cabin- remains a major aspect of the Challenger 605’s appeal. Stretching 28.425.5 feet long- standing 6.1 feet tall and spanning more than seven feet at floor level- the 605 continues to deliver on spaciousness and comfort. Today’s higher fuel costs make efficiency and cost control more important than ever. So the Challenger 605’s superior to 4-000 nautical cruise range offers operators the option of flying 1-000-mile out-and-back trips without facing the possibility of higher non-contract fuel prices from refueling before returning.
Collin’s had been Bombardier’s preference for the Challenger previously. Customers must have liked that choice because the plane-maker again picked Collins to supply the sophisticated avionics suite for the Challenger 605. This time the ProLine 21 – complete with a four-screen display system and improved pilot interface – has been utilized.
In the end- though- even a jet as capable and flexible as the 605 must be competitive financially and the approximately $27m tab presents prospects with a value equation that’s proven itself again and again.
Challenger 850ELR/ Challenger 850CS
For the operator with demands tilted more toward high-density than high-luxury flying- these two variations on Bombardier airliners offer solutions designed to bridge the gap between airliner utility and a flying office suite. Thanks to their airliner roots- for example- both Challenger 850 models offer outstanding space with cabins that go a lengthy 48.4 feet inside- which is longer than many corporate jet relatives.
The standard Challenger 850CS Shuttle offers an excellent 2-231-mile range- while the 850ELR- the more-executive oriented of the two- can stretch its wings nearly 2-835 nautical – mission differences that still fit the profile for many large jet users. The airline-pace cruise speed of these models – a respectable Mach 0.74 – lets them cover ground quickly while easily segueing into the flow of the airline-oriented ATC system. It takes $24.5m to land the CS version- and $29.1m for the corporate/executive ELR variant. For this much space- the per-square-foot costs are highly competitive.
Bombardier’s third offering in the airliner-as-business-jet line raises the space bar yet again- sporting a main cabin that provides a business space of 68 feet in length while providing the same expansive height and width as the standard-setting Challenger series’ 6.2 feet high- 8.3 feet across at its widest and 7.1 feet wide at floor level. The high-tech of the Collins ProLine 4 series flight deck keeps the airline-derived variant as capable as most of its peers and compatible with airline-trained crews and maintenance. Meantime- the Challenger 870CS offers slightly more speed than the 850 series- at 471 knots max and approximately the same range as the 850CS – about 2-200 nautical miles.
Priced at just above $30m- the Challenger 870CS delivers a significant gain in space at a still-competitive price.
More information from www.aero.bombardier.com
DASSAULT: Falcon 900DX/Falcon 900EX
Long a hallmark of Dassault- the triple-engine business jet remains a singularly identifiable trait of the Falcon 900 series- of which the 900DX and 900EX represent the extent to which the company has evolved the original Falcon 900. Capable of cruising a whopping 4-500 nautical miles- the top-performing 900EX provides a mission capability that no twin can quite match – and the 900EX does so with plenty of speed at Mach 0.80.
The 900DX matches the EX in speed- size and comfort- but delivers about 500 miles less in maximum range. However- it achieves a corresponding gain in runway requirements as a trade off for a lower maximum take-off weight. It climbs to initial cruise in 17 minutes – a minute less than the Falcon 900EX business jet for sale.
Both offer Dassault’s exclusive EASy five-display cockpit system in collaboration with Honeywell’s Primus Epic- further setting these Falcons off from their contemporaries. And both Falcon 900s are spacious jets- with a passenger cabin stretching more than 33 feet long- standing more than six feet tall- and stretching a whopping 7.7 feet across.
In contrast with their large features list and equally large capabilities- that trio of Honeywell TFE731-60 engines help keep these Falcon 900 models efficient performers. The 900DX- with its top-notch performance- sells for under $35m- while the 900EX commands just over $38.5m.
In deference to its vastly different mission capabilities- we decided to focus on the recently certificated Falcon 7X when we examine ultra-large and ultra-long-range jets next month.
In a nutshell- though- the 7X- Dassault’s newest triple- breaks new ground as business aviation’s first purpose-built jet sporting a fly-by-wire flight-control system- while elevating the Falcon line to a new stratum in globe-trotting capabilities.
More information from www.dassaultfalcon.com
EMBRAER: Legacy Executive/Legacy Shuttle
This Brazilian planemaker continues its march into the general aviation market with plans for two more business jets- these in the ultra-large cabin category we’ll cover next month.
In addition to a VLJ and a Light jet – the Phenom 100 and Phenom 300- respectively – that launched Embraer into the lower end of the market – the company has made inroads with its regional airliners morphed into the appropriately named business jets- the Legacy series.
The Legacy 600 and Legacy Shuttle both evolved into corporate aircraft out of the EMB135 regional jet. They sport cabins stretching more than 42 feet long- six feet tall and just short of seven feet wide at the widest.
The Shuttle offers configurations ranging from a 37-seat high-density cabin to an all first-class arrangement for 19. Configured for the high-density missions- the Shuttle can cover 1-200 nautical miles- the shortest legs in its class.
The Legacy 600- however- can surpass 3-200 nautical miles on a single leg- thanks to a fuel-capacity and gross-weight difference that lets it carry about 7-000 pounds more Jet A than the Shuttle.
Meantime- the five-screen Honeywell EFIS panels standard on both models provide all the crew should ever need in navigation- situational awareness- communications- traffic and weather needs.
For a company with the need to move large numbers of people among a number of satellite operations- the Shuttle may well be the best solution economically at about $18.6m. For the company looking to maximize its dollars in a more traditional large-cabin corporate aircraft- however- the Legacy 600 offers its own value equation at well under $24.8m.
More information from www.embraer.com
GULFSTREAM AEROSPACE: G350
Though the smaller of the two Gulfstreams in this class- the G350 is definitely a large-cabin bird with a cabin 40 feet long- 6.2 feet tall and 7.4 feet wide. And the G350 suffers no compromises in performance either: a cruise range of nearly 3-900 nautical miles; runway requirements as short as 5-050 feet; and cruise speeds of up to Mach 0.88. All the while- the G350 can carry eight passengers and gear plus the crew of two while achieving these numbers.
Gulfstream’s slick PlaneView cockpit- incorporating Honeywell’s Primus Epic avionics system- provides complete compatibility with the company’s industry-leading Enhanced Vision System (EVS) for the best in low-visibility safety. With top-of-class speed and runway capability- a large- comfortable cabin and the latest in office-technology amenities- the G350 offers a way into a new large-cabin Gulfstream for about $31m.
Gulfstream G450 Executive Business Jet
If the G350 came close- but not quite close enough in terms of your needs- you can move up an efficient notch with the equally fast G450. Priced at about $34.8m- the G450 offers about 500 nautical miles more in range in an aircraft with the same panel- engines and cabin. The trick lay with increasing the gross weight- fuel capacity and power management.
Of course- the compromise for the higher gross weight is there – an increase in runway needs of about 400 feet. But needing less than 5-500 feet for a jet capable of covering 4-300 nautical miles non-stop – with eight passengers and crew- no less – is still top-notch runway performance. Some medium jets need even more to give you far less. With the PlaneView cockpit- EVS and class-leading speed- the G450 is a value worth considering.
More information from www.gulfstream.com
Next time: We survey the small pool of the least-compromising business jets of all next month – those with the ability to fly ultra-long ranges or offering ultra-large cabins – including a smaller number that offer both. Join us in November for the next part to our 2007 Jet Round-Up series.