November 01, 2012
By Fred George email@example.com
Competition in the super-midsize segment is as hot as the Savannah summer sun now that the first customer deliveries of the $24 million Gulfstream G280 have begun. For nearly a decade, the class champion Bombardier Challenger 300 reigned supreme, outselling the matronly G200 and all other super-midsize aircraft by a wide margin.
Gulfstream did its best to field a competitive super-midsize aircraft when it acquired the Galaxy (nee Israel Aerospace Astra IV) in 2001 and rebadged it as the G200. The Savannah firm installed a first-rate interior, made incremental product improvements and increased operating weights, as well as provided top-ranked customer support.
These efforts paid dividends. G200 operators say their passengers love the cabin, plus they say that the aircraft has rock-solid reliability and it's relatively inexpensive to fly. Fueled by such positive comments from Galaxy/G200 operators, Gulfstream, along with Galaxy Aerospace, succeeded in delivering more than 240 aircraft.
But G200 sales remained hampered by the aircraft's undersized wing, anemic engines and outdated avionics. Compared to the Challenger 300, it was a flabby underachiever, leaving the Bombardier aircraft to run away with a huge market share.
Enter the G280, the replacement for the G200. It retains the basic G200 fuselage design, but it has been transformed into a muscle rocket with a new wing, engines and empennage. It's now a genuine Gulfstream performance machine with the best thrust-to-weight ratio and runway performance in the super-midsize class. And it has more tanks-full payload, 350-nm more range and better fuel efficiency than its Canadian competitor even though it has higher thrust engines and a smaller wing.
Of equal importance to operators, the G280 has more cabin volume than either the Challenger 300 or the G200, along with a lower cabin altitude and reduced cabin sound levels. Its 120-cu.-ft. aft baggage compartment is the largest in class and it's now accessible in flight because the G200's aft fuselage fuel tank has been eliminated. The G280 carries all its fuel in wing, center and belly tanks.
The new Gulfstream super midsize almost begs for admission to the large-cabin class because of its 935-cu.-ft. cabin volume, 3,600-nm range and Mach 0.80 normal cruise speed. It has more range than either the Dassault Falcon 2000S or Embraer Legacy 600. It also can fly 100+ nm farther at Mach 0.80 than the Challenger 605.