The aft lav is considerably bigger than the one aboard the G200 and features left- and right-side windows to flood the compartment with ambient light. It has more than 8 sq. ft. of floor space and 2.5 ft. of net usable length from cabin divider to the aft cabinets. The aft left side of the lavatory has a closet and the right aft side houses an avionics rack. There's a high-capacity, low-flow vacuum toilet and a sink with hot and cold running water, along with a covered 115-VAC power outlet, LED lighting and flight attendant call button. The lavatory has its own hot water heater. Notably, the entire fresh water system can be purged prior to landing to prevent freeze damage caused by cold weather layovers.
Cabinetry, upholstery, fabrics and Scott Group carpets, among other furnishings, are in keeping with large-cabin Gulfstream standards. The Dallas completion center now gives customers the option of selecting manufactured or reconstituted wood veneers on cabinets that use recycled materials. Aboard Gulfstream's G280 demonstrator, we found these materials to be virtually indistinguishable from natural wood veneers. Overall, the quality of the cabin completion appears to be unparalleled in this class of aircraft.
As comfortable as the cabin furnishings are, the interior completion complements the aircraft's MSG 3 maintenance-friendly design. Only three tools are required to remove all interior components, including chairs, cabinets and side panels.
Belt into the left seat of the G280, as we did in late August 2012, and it's immediately clear that its PlaneView280 flight deck puts this aircraft on par with the best of Gulfstream's large-cabin aircraft. Brian Dickerson, senior production test pilot for Gulfstream, accompanied us as instructor pilot in the right seat of s.n. 2004 and Bob Wilson, midsize Gulfstream aircraft experimental test pilot, rode along as safety pilot.
Dickerson explained that the G280 is the only aircraft in this class to have both full-authority auto throttles and an auto braking system. It's also the only super-midsize aircraft in current production offering optional HUD and EVS, although the demonstrator wasn't so equipped. We noted that Embraer plans to offer optional HUD and EVS on the Legacy 500 when it arrives in late 2013.
PlaneView280 has three 15-in. landscape configuration displays instead of the four 14-in. units used in larger Gulfstream aircraft. Each screen may be divided in half or quarters, providing as many as a dozen different images. It's easy to learn how to select various functions. Must-have functions are all top level, mostly selected by discrete controls. Nice-to-have functions are selected by using cursor control devices on the outboard side ledges.
The glareshield has left- and right-side standby multifunction controllers (SMC) adapted from the units aboard the G650 that function both as integrated standby instrument systems and display controllers. The SMC also provides APU start and operation monitoring when the aircraft batteries are the only source of electrical power.
The center section has the flight guidance control panel with direct readouts for speed, heading/track, vertical speed/flight path angle and preset altitude, that aid hand/eye coordination. These same data are available on the display screens.
Dickerson and Wilson prepped the aircraft and they had the APU running when we arrived at Gulfstream's Dallas-Love Field facility (elevation 487 ft.). Outside, the temperature was 33C/91F, but inside the aircraft it was 21C/70F.
Pre-start checks were straightforward, including use of the standby multifunction controller to run through stall, TCAS and TAWS tests, plus setting the landing field elevation. The FMS performance database is not yet certified, so Wilson computed takeoff data for a 32,000-lb. takeoff weight and flaps 20 deg. He calculated 106 KIAS for V1 takeoff decision speed, 112 KIAS for rotation and 124 KIAS for the V2 OEI takeoff safety speed. En route climb speed was 171 KIAS. Using those speeds and opting for a “bleeds off” takeoff, we computed takeoff field distance at 3,725 ft. The APU would furnish bleed air for air-conditioning and pressurization until after takeoff.