Ever since automaker CEOs went private jet-in-hand to Washington seeking bail-out bucks in 2008, business aircraft have become the political pinata of choice for certain members of the elected, who mistakenly see attacking executive contrails as surefire re-election rhetoric.
This, even as business aircraft makers and their suppliers have laid off tens of thousands as the market all but evaporated into recessional winds before coming back to life, albeit with a weak pulse, this year.
In 2010 there was blood in the streets of Wichita and it was a particularly gruesome time for almost everyone. The numbers don’t lie: Cessna saw its backlog collapse by $2 billion and lost $29 million for the year. Its CEO was unceremoniously “retired” shortly thereafter. Hawker Beechcraft posted a $173.9 million loss–after an even worse hemorrhage of $712 million 2009. In its 2010 annual report, Bombardier promised “brighter skies ahead” after noting its business jet deliveries were down 19 percent from the previous year. Dassault’s new Falcon deliveries were strong, but orders for the year were actually a net negative after cancellations. Gulfstream saw the lower end of its product line, G150s and G200s, get hammered, delivering just 24 of both models combined. A lot of this can be blamed on junked orders from the fractionals or high-profile publicly traded U.S. companies, especially those that benefited from the federal Troubled Asset Relief Program. However, the entropic global economy prompted individuals and private businesses to be sunny with their cash as well, especially in the light to medium categories. Not even the lure of U.S. bonus depreciation and overly generous trade-in values could move a big chunk of this market.
Against this backdrop it would be easy to assume that the OEMs were pulling in their sails by canceling or deferring new programs. There was a little of this, to be sure. Just about every upstart “paper airplane” company–those with an idea as opposed to an actual flying airplane–attempting to enter the bizjet market has gone quiet or away; thanks largely to vanishing venture capital, their development usually stops at the patent office or the wind tunnel. This includes the much-touted supersonics. On an August 31 conference call, Bombardier executives admitted that they were moving certain capital expenditures (capex) associated with new business aircraft programs “to the right” but insisted the adjustment would not affect program timetables. Hawker Beechcraft finally put the vampire stake in the Hawker 450XP, rebranded the long-awaited Premier II the “Hawker 200,” and shifted its initial delivery date to late 2012 or early 2013. Gulfstream stood down flight testing of the new, near-supersonic G650 for eight weeks following the fatal crash of a test aircraft on April 2, but the hiatus is not expected to delay deliveries next year.
However, rather than retrenching during the downturn, just about every OEM is pursuing significant new product offerings–from single-engine personal jets to $65 million long-legged, lux-liners–that are timed to hit the market near the time a presumed global economic recovery is expected to begin next year. The aviation industry is by nature optimistic. Its products are expected to fly and customers are inclined to buy. But this fresh crop of aircraft seems to recognize aviation’s new reality, embodying a laser-like focus on value. Some of these new aircraft are real game changers, offering unprecedented amounts of cabin connectivity, space and comfort for passengers while giving pilots easier-to-use and more comprehensive avionics that promise unparalleled safety. New/reworked engines are quieter, cleaner and more reliable. Increased use of composites yields lighter structures and more cabin volume.
Some products–such as the Learjet 85 and the Embraer Legacy 500–actually create new market niches. Others, such as the Falcon 2000S, attack existing ones, by raising the bar and dropping the price. Still more, such as the HondaJet, Cessna Citation Ten, Gulfstream G280 and G650, and the new Bombardier Globals, seek to perfect them. Early next year Boeing will start delivering new twin-aisle 787s and 747s to VIP completion centers. A 787 VIP can stay in the air unrefueled for 22 hours. The future’s promise has convinced some established business turboprop makers, including Daher-Socata, Piaggio and Pilatus, to think about getting in the jet game. Some other non-traditional players are lining up as well. At this year’s Paris Air Show plans were announced for a $50 million “Sukhoi Business Jet” from Russia. Other previously announced programs subsequently left for dead are seeing new cash and new life. This includes most of the single-engine jet sector.
Just how optimistic is the new jet market? Daher-Socata is thinking about resurrecting the moribund Grob SPn utility jet. At Oshkosh this year Aerostar showed up with an experimental variant of the iconic aircraft that had a pair of PW615 turbofans slung under the wings in place of the piston engines and propellers.
Along with the global economy, the bizjet market has changed. It is more export-driven than ever, with more choices and sportier price competition. All the OEMs are wresting costs from the production cycle with more efficient practices. There is an abundance of innovation and new value propositions. It all adds up to good news for buyers–in any category.
A nonconforming prototype first flew in 2008, but that was constructed around Piper’s Malibu/Meridian-class fuselage. It soon became apparent to the company’s new owners, Brunei-based Imprimis, that the 1980s-vintage fuselage was wanting, and the company set about a redesign that should make its first flight next year. The revised fuselage is an aerodynamic oval that yields 260 cu ft of cabin volume and 60 cu ft of baggage space divided between compartments in the nose and in the cabin. Standard cockpit/cabin layout calls for the two pilot positions followed by a lav seat, a club-four grouping of single seats and accessible baggage storage behind that. The cabin measures 211 inches long. Along with a larger fuselage the aircraft gets a bigger wing that is relocated below the fuselage, longer engine nacelle, and a shorter tail that is positioned farther aft. Piper has more than 200 engineers tasked to the program, has begun cutting metal for conformal aircraft and is in the midst of remodeling a production building in Vero Beach for final assembly of the aircraft. The company plans to have four test aircraft flying next year and is aiming for certification in 2013, with deliveries beginning in 2014.
The Altaire’s maximum range is targeted at 1,300 nm, with a maximum cruise speed of 360 knots. The airplane’s range is 1,200 nm with a payload of 800 pounds. Price for a typically equipped aircraft is $2.6 million. Power comes from a single Williams International FJ44-3AP turbofan (2,500 pounds of thrust) mounted in the tail. Piper has selected the Garmin G3000 avionics suite for the aircraft.
After essentially shuttering the program in March when the Canadian government turned down a loan request, Diamond appears to be moving forward with the D-Jet program. Over the summer the company announced a significant cash infusion from an unidentified investor and in September the first test aircraft returned to flight status. Diamond said it is using the new investment proceeds to build a fourth conforming test aircraft and finish certification, but hinted that additional funds might be needed to put the aircraft into production. Last announced price for the five-seat, Williams International FJ33-5A powered aircraft was $1.89 million (2009 $). The aircraft is expected to employ the Garmin G1000 avionics suite. Maximum cruise speed is 315 knots and typical cruise speed will be around 240 knots. The aircraft has a service ceiling of 25,000 feet and a maximum range of 1,350 nm.
Cirrus SF50 Vision
This appears to be another case of “back from the dead.”
Cirrus co-founder Dale Klapmeier said the company’s recent majority acquisition by China’s state-owned Caiga/Avic will provide the necessary capital to restart the moribund SF50 single-engine jet program. He said the company needs time to reramp and restaff the effort and that a new timetable for the jet is at least four to five months out. “We have to ramp back up and get 20 to 30 more engineers on staff and have all the plans in place to get them working productively. After that it is a three-year program.” There are approximately 425 position holders for the aircraft.
Cirrus began flying a non-conforming prototype in 2008, but as the company struggled to survive the economic downturn, the value of that aircraft was marketing bait for pumping its upgraded, but still anemically selling, piston-engine aircraft at sales road shows. The SF50 currently is designed for a top speed of 300 knots, a service ceiling of 28,000 feet, payload of 1,200 pounds and a maximum range of 1,100 nm. Full-fuel payload is 400 pounds. Original plans called for a flexible seating layout for five to seven. The last price announced for the aircraft was $1.72 million. The production aircraft is likely to be powered by the Williams International FJ33-5A (1,900 pounds of thrust) and have an avionics suite based on the Garmin G1000 system. Over the last few years Cirrus executives said some changes to the production aircraft from the “proof of concept” currently flying include a new engine thrust angle, a redesigned nose, elimination of the right-side passenger door, and a refashioned wing root fairing.
Earlier this year Stratos announced it had begunone-eighth-scale-model wind tunnel testing for the four- to five-seat aircraft. The company is seeking additional development financing. Preliminary plans call for the aircraft to have a service ceiling of 41,000, a maximum cruising speed of 415 knots, and a range of 1,500 nm. The 714 is to be powered by a Williams FJ44-3AP (3,030 pounds of thrust).
This is what patient capital can do. The HondaJet grew out of a research project that began in 1986, and today the 425-knot, $4.5 million entry-level twinjet is well on its way to certification next year. A fleet of conformal test aircraft (that look almost identical to the prototype flying since 2003) is currently racking up hours. More than 600 employees are now working at Honda’s massive 83-acre Greensboro, N.C. campus, which has 500,000 sq ft under roof, and when production is fully ramped up it is expected to be able to turn out 70 to 100 aircraft per year. The first two years of production are already sold out.
The HondaJet uses a composite fuselage mated to metal wings. Its unconventional design features over-wing pylons that actually reduce drag and eliminate the need to rule or taper the aft fuselage. Among the benefits this yields are increased cabin volume (290 cu ft), 66 cu ft of baggage space, room for an aft cabin lavatory and a quieter cabin with less vibration. Overall, the cabin measures 17.8 feet long, 5 feet wide, and 4.94 feet tall. Exact cabin configurations and available color and fabric palettes remain under study. Currently Honda has divulged just one cabin configuration: a single-place, side-facing kibitzer opposite the entry door followed by club-four seating and an aft-cabin lavatory. The jet is expected to have an IFR range of 1,180 nm and a ceiling of 43,000 feet and will be certified for single-pilot operation.
Key suppliers on the HondaJet include GE Honda Aero Engines for the HF120 engines (2,050 pounds of thrust each); Garmin for the G3000 touchscreen avionics; and Emteq for its SkyPro HD IFE and cabin management system, which features touchscreen monitors, AVOD, interactive 3-D moving map, exterior camera and cabin control. Touchscreen monitors will be available at each seat and function as IFE, CMS and lighting controls. With the XM satellite radio option, passengers can select their own station presets at individual seats.
The Aerostar Jet
Aerostar Aircraft flew its long-awaited jet version of the Aerostar piston twin this summer. The prototype aircraft features twin underwing-mounted, Fadec-controlled Pratt & Whitney Canada PW615Fs that propel the aircraft at 400 knots at 20,000 feet. Aerostar president Steve Speer said the aircraft’s altitude is currently limited because it is not equipped with an RVSM-compliant altimeter, though plans call for the aircraft to have a ceiling of 35,000 feet eventually. He is confident that the fuselage can withstand the higher pressurization loads at this altitude. “The main thing we have to do is go to dual-pane windows,” Speer noted. Max takeoff weight is 6,050 pounds, and Speer said the range goal is 1,100 nm. He said no price has been set for the twinjet, which the company envisions as a “new production” airplane, though he does not discount the possibility of doing retrofits. According to Speer, the company is currently seeking capital to place the jet into production, which he estimates would cost $50 million. “This is a proven airframe and is a lot less expensive to get into production.”
These remanufactured light twinjets are currently selling for $2.15 million each and the company is making approximately two per month, according to Mason Holland, Eclipse Aerospace’s CEO. For that price customers get an aircraft with updated avionics, new paint and interior, enrollment in an engine ESP program and a full factory warranty. Owners of current Eclipses are not eligible for the upgrade yet. Rather, Eclipse buys used aircraft off the market and refurbishes them, a process that includes replacing various “infant mortality parts,” Holland said. The typical Total Eclipse customer wants new-aircraft reliability and support “from day one” and Holland said the company is succeeding at providing it.
Hawker 200 (formerly Premier II)
The crunch at Hawker Beechcraft has moved this program two full years to the right, with deliveries into service not expected now until the end of next year or early 2013. The $7.55 million Hawker 200 was formerly known as the Premier II and is the follow-on aircraft to the Premier 1A. It features a redesigned ventral fin, more powerful Williams International FJ44-3AP engines, Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics with multiscan weather radar and ADS-B out, and winglets that are expected to shorten time to climb and increase speed, payload and range. Cruise speed is to increase by 23 knots, to 473, and range will jump 20 percent, to 1,500 nm. Payload at that range increases by 530 pounds. Four aircraft are currently in flight test. Like the Premier 1A, the Hawker 200 is to be certified for single-pilot operations.
At last year’s NBAA Convention, HBC unveiled an interior “concept mock-up” for the aircraft that featured a redesigned galley and lavatory as well as flexible passenger seating configurations for four to eight plus the flight crew. The standard cabin layout has four forward-facing seats. A fifth passenger can sit in the copilot position. A sixth and seventh passenger can be accommodated with a side-facing seat aft and a belted lavatory seat. An eighth seat can be installed in place of the galley, leaving room for a smaller refreshment center. High-definition audio/video and a high-speed Internet package are expected to be offered as optional items. HBC has yet to make final decisions on which cabin options and configurations will be offered on the 200.
Nextant 400XT & Hawker 400XPR
Like the Total Eclipse, these also are remanufacturing programs. Cleveland-based Nextant is giving old Beechjet 400As/Hawker 400XPs new engines and avionics and a refreshed interior for a base price of $3.9 million, which includes the cost of acquiring a used aircraft for modernization. The upgrade increases range 50 percent, cuts climb times by one-third and chops operating costs 29 percent. It also makes the airplane marginally faster.
New installed components include a pair of Williams International FJ44-3AP engines, glass-panel Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics, new paint and an up-to-date interior that replaces the soundproofing blankets, refoams and recovers the seats, and adds new headliner, window lines, drink rails, sidewalls, carpeting and veneer. Customers can choose from four floor plans, all with single seats for five to seven passengers. Nextant is seriously looking at making a 60-inch-long, three-place divan available opposite the entry door to accommodate passengers with mobility issues and pets.
The revamped aircraft made its first test flight in March 2010 and customer deliveries are expected to begin later this year. Nextant’s goal–unlike that of many past re-engine and refurbishment programs–is serialized production. Therefore, rather than having individual customers bring their airplanes in for conversion, the company is buying used aircraft and converting and selling them. Nextant is slated to deliver about a dozen 400XTs this year, reaching an average annual production rate of 38 by 2014. Already, the program has received an order worth $150 million to convert forty 400A/XPs for Flight Options.
In October 2010, Hawker Beechcraft announced its own conversion program for the 400A/XP, called the 400XPR. The $2.24 million XPR package requires customers to bring their own aircraft to a Hawker Beechcraft service center. Like the Nextant program, this one adds Pro Line 21 avionics and Williams engines (in this case the FJ44-4A-32), and a refurbished interior. It also adds winglets.
Cessna Citation Ten
At last year’s NBAA Convention, Cessna announced a major block change to its midsize Mach 0.92 Citation X speedster, renaming it the Ten. It gets winglets, tweaked engines that are marginally more efficient, a new glass-panel Garmin G5000 avionics suite, a whizbang cabin management system co-developed by Cessna and Heads Up Technologies, sportier seats, extremely hip LED cabin lighting and a 15-inch cabin stretch. The main object of the airplane appears to be to give the owners of the existing fleet of more than 300 Citation Xs somewhere to go when they are looking for an upgrade. With this newest block change, Cessna is attempting to address the airplane’s perceived shortcomings by providing a complete cabin makeover with new styling, more space and more storage.
The cabin stretch yields nearly nine inches of additional legroom in the forward club passenger seat grouping and almost five in the rear club. There are larger fold-out tables in the forward club area, which becomes a snack drawer in the folded position. A clever storage shelf above the table shroud contains retractable cup-holder tabs and room for personal electronics. This ledge also contains the controls for the new fiber-optic cabin management system. The unobtrusive CMS control panel contains a screen about the size of an iPhone. High-speed Internet, satellite radio and cabin Wi-Fi are available options. Phone service will be provided via the Aircell Axxess II system, while Internet will be available via the Aircell ground-based system or Inmarsat Swift Broadband. The aircraft offers new standard and optional galleys and also features a new left-hand forward closet, a new vanity and new latchware throughout. Cabin lighting has been updated as well. The overhead white ambient lighting is lensed, dimmable and warmth-adjustable. The LED accent lighting on the side ledges, aisle and cabinetry is fully RGB color-adjustable. Cockpit aesthetics are dramatically improved thanks to the three-screen Garmin G5000 avionics system with touchscreen controllers and the addition of metallic accents.
Overall aircraft performance improves slightly with the addition of winglets and updated Rolls-Royce AE3007C2 engines with high-flow-fan turbines, rated at 7,034 pounds of thrust each, that deliver a 4-percent boost in takeoff thrust, 9-percent better climb performance, 7-percent more cruise thrust and a 1.4-percent improvement in specific fuel consumption. The new engines feature a more efficient fan with 38.5-inch compound swept fan blades, which Rolls-Royce says are more durable and improve stability. The engine will also have a larger LP turbine to improve durability and HP compressor vane schedule for efficiency as well as new Fadec software with improved engine health monitoring and engine start logic. The changes yield a variety of performance improvements. Payload increases by 214 pounds, range at high-speed cruise increases by 211 nm to 3,107 nm and the initial cruise altitude increases to FL450 from FL430. Time to climb to FL450 is 23 minutes; to FL350 (anti-ice off) it is 13 minutes. The Ten will have a higher initial maximum cruise altitude and be able to fly faster at various altitudes; cruise speeds will increase by between two and 19 knots, depending on altitude. At FL350 high-speed cruise increases from 525 ktas to 527 ktas, while at FL490 it bumps from 460 ktas to 479 ktas. However, you still have to step climb this airplane after that to get up to the aircraft’s maximum cruise altitude of 51,000 feet. Cessna estimates that on the average transcontinental trip the new airplane is two minutes faster and burns 22 gallons less fuel. A hard top speed for the aircraft remains undefined, so it may be possible that the new Ten will lose the corporate jet speed crown to the $65 million Gulfstream G650, which last year flew at Mach 0.995. However, the Citation Ten will continue to be the fastest midsize cabin bizjet.
The new Citation Ten is scheduled to fly at the end of this year and to enter service in 2013. The price has been initially set at $21.495 million (2010).
The Learjet 85’s cabin is one-third larger than the 60XR’s, yet slightly smaller than a true super-midsize. In a world of niche marketing run amok, the 85 might be more accurately characterized as “midsize plus.” Bombardier remains confident it can bring its all-composite, $17.2 million Learjet 85 to market by next year. The OEM is relying on its composites plant in Queretaro, Mexico, to fabricate the structure. Final assembly is to take place in Wichita. The 85 is likely to be the first all-composite business aircraft certified under Part 25. While the 85 will weigh one-third more than the 60, it will need only 20 percent more thrust, fly 500 more miles on a load of fuel and actually have a slightly higher top cruise speed–all while offering better specific fuel consumption.
Bombardier claims the 85 will have 19-percent more cabin volume than its closest competitor. Indeed, for a midsize, the 85’s cabin is already capacious: 24 feet, nine inches long; 6 feet, one inch wide; and six feet tall, yielding 665 cu ft of passenger space and 130 cu ft of luggage stowage, including three large cabin closets with a combined 30 cu ft of storage. Several different configurations will be available, including eight single executive seats in a double-club layout or six single seats and a three-place divan. The single seats are pitched at 30 inches and recline into full-berthing positions. (A maximum of four can be berthed at any one time.) The divan and the berthing seats reflect the 85’s 3,000-nm transcontinental/transatlantic design range (four passengers). This longer-legged Learjet also features a full galley and an aft cabin lavatory. Like several other contemporary cabin designs, the 85 will feature larger passenger cabin windows, 12 by 16 inches each, and more monolithic, streamlined headliners and sidewalls. Bombardier has tapped Lufthansa Technik to provide the cabin management system, Rockwell Collins for a three-screen Pro Line Fusion avionics system with advanced capabilities including synthetic vision, and Pratt & Whitney Canada for new PW307B engines (6,100 lbs of thrust each). High-speed cruise is Mach 0.82 and the aircraft’s service ceiling will be 49,000 feet.
Embraer Legacy 450 and 500
Embraer’s formal entry into the quasi-midsize market came in 2008 when it announced development of a pair of fly-by-wire aircraft that share the same wings, empennage and cabin cross-section. However, the 500’s fuselage will be approximately six feet longer than that of the shorter-legged 450. Embraer says both aircraft will have a six-foot stand-up cabin with a flat floor, a fully equipped galley and an externally serviced aft lavatory. The 500 is being designed to have a range of 2,800 nm with eight passengers, at Mach 0.80 and NBAA IFR reserves. The 450 is being designed to have a range of 2,300 nm with four passengers at long-range cruise and NBAA IFR reserves. The $18.4 million (2008 $) 500 is expected to enter service in 2013, and the $15.25 million 450 in 2014.
The 500 can be configured to carry up to 12 passengers in a cabin that is near super-midsize, and there is a generous amount of baggage space: 150 cu ft (110 external).
The cabin measures 26 feet, 10 inches long and 6 feet, 10 inches wide. Embraer says several different cabin layouts will be available. Customers can choose between a large forward galley opposite galley annex storage or a single, side-facing seat ideal for a cabin attendant. Or they can have a side-facing, two-place divan opposite a small refreshment center. The wet galley features hot and cold water, four gallons of potable water, crystal storage, an ice drawer, compartments for china and silverware, 110V power outlet, and optional monitor and espresso maker.
Behind that is the two-zone main cabin with seating for eight or nine more passengers.
Possible configurations include two club-four groupings of single seats or a forward club-four followed by a half-club with a three-place, berthing divan on either the right or left side.
Half-club pairs of single seats can be rotated back-to-back and then recline together to form a comfortable sleeping surface. With the seats positioned and folded down in this manner, the 500 provides comfortable sleeping accommodations for up to four passengers. Behind that is the lavatory complete with solid door, vanity, basin and vacuum toilet.
The seats and the cabin tables were revised to better reflect customer tastes after Embraer showed the preliminary cabin mock-up to its customer advisory panel. As on its smaller Phenom jets, Embraer collaborated with BMW DesignworksUSA on styling the 500’s cabin.
The 500 will be equipped with Honeywell’s high-definition, touchscreen Ovation Select cabin management system (CMS). It can interface with high-speed satellite communications and a variety of wired and wireless consumer electronics, including iPods, MP2 players, AppleTV and gaming systems. Cabin altitude will be 6,000 feet at the 500’s maximum cruising altitude of 45,000 feet.
In the cockpit, the Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion avionics system features four large, active-matrix LCDs in the panel that connect the pilots with synthetic enhanced vision with an optional head-up display, electronic charts, maps and graphical weather depiction from a MultiScan weather radar.
The 500’s Honeywell HTF7500E engines (6,540 pounds of thrust each) use a package of proprietary technologies that improve fuel burn and reduce the production of nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, unburned fuel emissions and smoke.
The 500 is expected to fly in this year’s fourth quarter.
Gulfstream renamed its remake of the super-midsize G200 earlier this year due to cultural sensitivities related to the number 250 in Asia. Certification of the $24 million (2008 $) G280 is expected later this year. The aircraft is built by IAI in Israel. Gulfstream will own the type certificate and install the interiors. The first production G280 is currently having its interior fitted at Gulfstream Dallas.
Gulfstream acquired the G200 when it bought Galaxy Aerospace in 2001. The aircraft offered a unique value because its ovoid fuselage actually allows for more headroom than a full-size Gulfstream GIV (with a tube that is only two inches narrower), seating for eight to 10 passengers, true transcontinental range, a 45,000-foot ceiling and a top speed of Mach 0.85. The thin wings and smallish engines gave the aircraft good fuel economy for its size, but they also gave the G200 poor takeoff performance when heavily loaded, gave it useful-load problems and required some fuel to be stored in the fuselage.
Honeywell’s HTF7250G turbofans (7,445 pounds of thrust each) will power the G280 up to 41,000 feet in 20 minutes and reduce cabin noise. The G280’s revised electrical system incorporates large-aircraft features that include independent generators on each engine and a quieter auxiliary power unit. The redesigned transonic wing shortens the G280’s required takeoff distance with a full load and the aircraft will now be able to use 5,000-foot runways comfortably. Range increases to 3,400 nm at Mach 0.8. Up front, the G280 will be guided by a PlaneView cockpit built around the Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion system. It features three large, high-resolution 15-inch LCD displays and can be outfitted with synthetic and enhanced vision.
While the G280’s fuselage is unchanged from that on the G200, Gulfstream optimized it by moving all the fuel into the wings, which created more usable cabin space as well as in-flight access to the 154-cu-ft baggage compartment. Three basic cabin layouts are available in eight-, nine- and 10-passenger configurations, including double-club and club with half-club opposite a three-place, side-facing aft divan. Overall cabin length is now 25 feet, 10 inches from the forward edge of the lavatory to the aft edge of the galley. The lavatory is 48 inches wide on the G280 compared with just 26 inches on the G200. The G280 lav has a wardrobe closet, two large windows and a sink with a raised ledge. It also has a vacuum toilet system. The redesigned galley has increased stowage space, a gasper-cooled ice drawer and a sink with slide-out work surfaces. Natural lighting comes from 19 cabin windows and LED lighting. In-flight entertainment packages include Iridium satcom system with three headsets, high-definition television and larger, 17-inch flat-panel standard cabin displays. LCDs bigger than 17 inches are a contemplated option. The G280 will be outfitted with a variant of the proprietary wireless Gulfstream cabin management system the company developed for the larger G650.
Dassault Falcon Jet 2000S
Earlier this year Dassault Falcon Jet announced the 2000S, a $25 million variant of the popular twinjet aimed squarely at the super-midsize market. DFJ wrested cost from the aircraft by offering it with a standardized cockpit and three pre-packaged cabin “harmonies” or color and fabric combinations and one standard, 10-passenger seating layout based on what most F2000 customers wanted—all single seats. It features a forward club-four grouping followed by six narrower conference seats that can be arrayed around a hi-lo table. The seats are resculpted and DFJ selected a new seat frame supplier, B/E Aerospace. DFJ will decide whether or not to offer additional configurations after the first 20 aircraft are delivered, beginning in early 2013.
There is a new modular cabin management system aboard called Falcon Cabin HD. Based on the Rockwell Collins Venue system, it enables Blu-ray media on wide-screen monitors and can be commanded via iPod Touch or iPhone. A custom app controls video playback, electric window shades, and adjustments to temperature and lighting. The AirCell Axxess II Iridium satcom is the standard communications package. Up front the Easy II avionics are new, too. DFJ says functionality is improved and there are more options, including synthetic vision, XM weather and ADS-B out. The cockpit is refreshed with new trim and paint.
DFJ trimmed extra weight from the cabin by going with a new cabin shell that has built-in insulation and by painting unseen cabinet and drawer surfaces as opposed to laminating them.
However, the biggest weight saving comes from dropping a fuselage fuel tank. It cuts range to 3,350 nm from the 4,000 on the $32.1 million 2000LX. Inboard wing slats and standard autobrake were added, cutting the approach speed to 108 knots and allowing the 2000S to use airports with shorter runways and steeper approaches. High/hot performance also improves. Thanks also to the reduced weight, the aircraft can fly shorter flights and climb faster to 41,000 feet. It also benefits from the addition of the same winglets fitted to the 2000LX.
The 2000S gets revised P&WC PW308C engines (7,000 pounds of thrust each) fitted with new Talon II combustors that cut emissions by up to 40 percent. Combined with the winglets, this helps the 2000S burn “10 percent less fuel than aircraft that are 20 percent smaller,” according to Dassault. The company claims the 2000S “is a large-cabin aircraft with fuel economy and operating costs that are much less than smaller aircraft in the midsize business jet category.”
Virtually nothing concrete is known about this in-development twinjet that is slated to enter service in 2016. The “SMS” moniker could be surmised as “super midsize,” but even that is believed to be some intentional misdirection. Based on thrust requirements, the SMS is likely to be in a new category between the super-mids and the large-cabin aircraft. The company is not expected to release any details on the aircraft until 2013. Approximately 1,000 people are working on the program and it has progressed to wind-tunnel testing. Speculation suggests the aircraft will have fly-by-wire controls and will be powered by the Snecma Silvercrest engine.
The fatal crash of a test aircraft in April held up the flying part of the program by less than two months and it is likely that Gulfstream’s new $64.5 million fly-by-wire flagship will earn certification late this year or early next. The new airplane will offer the longest range, fastest speed and largest cabin in the Gulfstream fleet. It will have a range of 7,000 nm at Mach 0.85, 5,000 nm at Mach 0.90 Mach and a maximum operating speed of Mach 0.925–making it the fastest civil aircraft flying. Power will come from a pair of new 16,100-pound-thrust Rolls-Royce BR725 engines controlled by Goodrich Fadecs. The engines are more efficient, have lower exhaust emissions and are 33 percent quieter than their predecessor, the BR710. Noise level is 17 decibels below Stage 4 standards. The engines not only enable the G650 to conform to all existing and anticipated airport noise restrictions, they also make for a quieter cabin. The PlaneView II avionics system is derived from the Honeywell Primus Epic system and incorporates both Honeywell’s synthetic vision-primary flight display and the Kollsman EVS II enhanced vision system. Gulfstream has dramatically enlarged the dimensions of key interior components. The cabin entry door is almost 75 inches high (as opposed to 59.25 inches on the G550). The baggage area provides 195 cu ft of space and is accessible in flight at all altitudes through the aft lavatory. The external baggage door has been enlarged by 8 percent compared with the G550 and lowered four inches to provide for easier loading. The G650 will have both forward and aft lavatories equipped with IWG-A6 ultraviolet water treatment and purification systems. The pressurization system delivers a cabin altitude of only 2,800 feet at an altitude of 41,000 feet and increases to only 4,850 feet at 51,000. The aircraft incorporates Gulfstream’s “100 percent fresh air” system and the lavatories are now independently vented.
The wider floor allows for larger seats, a wider aisle and three-across seating options in conference and dining groupings. The fuselage’s oval shape is more aerodynamically efficient than the G550’s round-tube design and offers more cabin space. The unfinished cabin measures 102 inches wide and 77 inches high (75 inches finished). The G650’s floor is 80 inches wide (15 inches wider than the G550’s) and the interior sidewall-to-sidewall width (at shoulders, seated) is 98 inches. This means more seat recline, legroom and stateroom options as well as larger galleys, lavatories, baggage and crew-rest areas. The single executive seats are 28 inches wide, two inches wider than those in the G550.The G650’s 16 cabin windows each measure 28 inches by 20.5 inches and will be the industry’s largest, 16 percent larger than those on the G550.
Gulfstream developed its own fiber optic Gulfstream Cabin Management System (GCMS) for the G650 and has since scaled it for the G280. The GCMS uses the Apple iPod Touch, synched to individual seats, to control the CabinView AVOD system, lighting, window shades, temperature, monitors, speakers and attendant call. Gulfstream’s proprietary graphical user interface (GUI) will be developed for other personal systems such as the Android or Microsoft Windows 7 Mobile and any others that are viewed as industry standards.
Bombardier Global 7000 and 8000
Bombardier’s answer to the G650 is to offer a pair of new aircraft with more range and fuel efficiency than the company’s current Global XRS flagship. Both aircraft use the current Global XRS fuselage but stretch it; the 7000 by 11 feet, 3 inches and the 8000 by two feet, three inches. Not all details for the aircraft, which are scheduled to enter service in 2016 and 2017, respectively, have been announced. But Bombardier has said that the aircraft will use a new thin high-speed wing, fuel-efficient GE TechX engines (16,500 pounds of thrust each) and Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion avionics. Bombardier said that both aircraft will beat the G650’s range at Mach 0.90; the G650’s range at this speed is 5,000 nm, while at that speed the Global 8000 will be designed to go 5,650 nm and the Global 7000 5,100 nm. At Mach 0.85 the range bumps up to 7,900 and 7,300, respectively. Range numbers assume 10 passengers and four crew on the 7000 and eight passengers and four crew on the 8000. Maximum ramp weights for both aircraft top 105,000 pounds. The price is expected to be in the $65 million range (2010).
The Sukhoi Business Jet (SBJ)
Here come the Russians.
Plans for the $50 million Sukhoi Business Jet (SBJ) were formally announced at this year’s Paris Air Show. The aircraft will be an executive version of the Sukhoi 100 (SSJ100) “Superjet,” a 75- to 95-seat regional jet currently undergoing final EASA certification. It is being built by United Aircraft, a partnership of Italy’s Alenia and Russia’s Sukhoi Design Bureau–with technical and marketing support from Boeing. More than 200 of the $32 million Superjets are on order, primarily from airlines in Russia and Asia. For years, United Aircraft has made no secret of its interest in offering an executive version of the model to fill a niche it sees between large-cabin bizjets such as Gulfstreams and Bombardier Globals and the even bigger, single-aisle twinjets such as the Airbus Corporate Jet and Boeing Business Jet (BBJ).
Carlo Logli, CEO of Superjet International, the SSJ100’s marketing arm, estimates that between 80 and 100 Sukhoi Business Jets could be delivered over the next 20 years, with sales centered primarily in North America, the Middle East and Russia. Fitted with auxiliary fuel tanks, Superjets could have a range of 4,300 nm, which would put them head-to-head with Embraer’s Lineage 1000. The aircraft has a ceiling of 41,000 feet and cruises at 448 knots. Superjet predicts initial deliveries in 2014.
Really Big BBJs
Boeing is offering its new twin-aisle 787 twinjet and 747-8 Intercontinental four-holer for Boeing Business Jet customers, and the orders already are piling up; VVIP customers have ordered nine of the 747s and 12 of the 787s. “Right now our backlog of twin-aisle airplanes is larger than our backlog of 737-based airplanes,” said BBJ president Steve Taylor. “I don’t think any of us saw that coming.”
Deliveries of the $318 million (green) 747 BBJ into completion centers are scheduled to begin late this year, depending on results of the flight-test program. In VIP configuration the aircraft will have an unrefueled range of 9,260 nm with 100 passengers and a top speed of up to 533 knots.
The cavernous 4,786-sq-ft cabin has already captured the fashion of leading designers, who are planning to outfit it with balconies, loft suites and ground-to-main-deck elevators.
In VIP configuration with 24 to 35 passengers sharing the 2,400-sq-ft cabin, the 787-8 twinjet will be able to remain aloft for nearly 22 hours and fly 9,590 nm nonstop, connecting virtually any two points on the globe. In the belly there is space for 4,400 cu ft of cargo. A follow-on stretched model, the 787-9, will add 300 sq ft of cabin floor space and fly 400 miles farther.
Some designers have already fielded ambitious interior concepts for the aircraft that include a second level, giant big-screen theater room, band stand, full bar, transparent floors, fitness center, sauna, library, walk-in shower, formal dining room and gourmet kitchen.
Boeing has authorized six centers to provide VIP completions for the 787 and the first one is scheduled for delivery into completion early next year. Price of the basic “green” aircraft before completion is $185 million.