Want more range at Mach 0.80? Plan on spending $10 million, or so, to step up to a Falcon 2000LX or Gulfstream G350. Those aircraft have larger cabins, but they also burn considerably more fuel. They also have a higher profile at airports, a drawback for some operators who like a more modest ramp presence.
Even without a heavy-iron class cabin, the G280's range and speed make it competitive with larger aircraft that can fly nonstop across the North Atlantic from Paris to New York. It can climb directly to FL 430 at ISA+10C and it cruises at 459 KTAS, enabling it to top the North Atlantic bus lanes on typically warm days above the Gulf Stream and fly more direct routes between Europe and North America. It also can sprint across the continental U.S. at Mach 0.84, flying between most East and West Coast U.S. cities in 5 hr. or less.
This is an 8-hr. endurance airplane with an 8-hr. cabin. Maximum cabin altitude is 7,000 ft. A tape measure and sound meter tell more of the tale. The cabin width is within 2 in. of a G550's and interior sound levels are close, Gulfstream claims. Admittedly, the G280's main seating area is 40% shorter than that of a G550. It also has a 4-in. dropped aisle rather than a fully flat floor. But once passengers are in their chairs, they actually have a couple more inches of overall floor width than in the G550 and nearly the same seated head and shoulder room. As for the difference in cabin length, the G280 will typically carry four to eight passengers instead of eight to 12 in a G550.
While the G280, which is manufactured in Tel Aviv, lacks the signature wide oval cabin windows of Savannah-built Gulfstreams, it has four more windows than the G200, totaling 19 in all, that flood the cabin and aft lavatory with ambient light. There is a standard Iridium satcom phone and Wi-Fi system, power outlets at each seat and multi-mode cabin entertainment system. The G280 is the first Gulfstream to be fitted with the dual redundant Cabin Essential CMS, virtually assuring 100% availability of cabin lighting, 28 VDC power, CMS control, audiovisual entertainment, fresh water and waste systems.
Up front, there is large, full service galley across from the entry door that was custom designed with inputs from professional flight attendants. There's even a two-way, cockpit jump seat for the flight attendant that faces forward for takeoff and landing and then aft during cruise to provide a rest area. The aft lavatory has a high-capacity vacuum toilet, a first for a super-midsize aircraft, and a rear access door to the baggage compartment.
The G280 has new CAA Israel and FAA Part 25 type certificates, ones that are not linked to a previous model. The aircraft complies with Part 25 through Amendment A1-120, plus A122. European Aviation Safety Agency CS-25 A2 type certification is in the works. The aircraft meets ICAO Annex 16 and FAR Part 36 Stage 4 noise standards, along with FAR Part 34 fuel venting and exhaust emission requirements.
The TCs and other approvals are, or will be, owned by Gulfstream Aerospace LP, a joint venture of Gulfstream Aerospace and Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. based at Tel Aviv-Ben Gurion Airport. The green aircraft is assembled at IAI using parts made in the U.S., Israel and other countries in accordance with a CAA Israel production certificate. It's then fitted with a ferry package and flown to Gulfstream's Dallas-Love Field facility for painting and outfitting.
The G280's design is classic Gulfstream, one for which the engineers in Savannah provided ample margin for weight gain during the development process. They fitted it with a generously sized wing and empennage, along with powerful engines. The G280 has sporty performance in spite of its nearly 4,000-lb. weight increase compared to the G200.
That wasn't the case for IAI's G200. It fell well short of performance goals because the Israelis set overly ambitious weight goals, specifying an 18,100-lb. BOW and 33,450-lb. MTOW. The original design indeed was even more anemic than the final product. IAI planned to use 5,900-lb.-thrust engines, as we reported in December 1993.
The aircraft's BOW later ballooned to 20,200 lb., fuel capacity was increased and MTOW was bumped to 35,650 lb. The 369-sq.-ft. modified Astra SP wing and 6,040-lb. increased thrust Pratt & Whitney Canada PW306A engines simply couldn't handle the increased heft. The added weight gave it one of the highest wing loadings and weakest thrust-to-weight ratios of any purpose-built business jet.