Our readers might ask if this is a fair matchup. The graph indicates that the G280 doesn't have as long a cabin as the composite average, mainly because of the 16.6-ft. extra length of the Legacy 650. Take that aircraft out of the mix and the G280 holds its own.
The G280 can carry five passengers with full fuel. The tradeoff for each additional passenger is 60-65 miles of range. With equal payload, the G280 can fly farther than other super-midsize aircraft. Only large-cabin aircraft have more range with the same payload. But they also burn more fuel on such missions.
By most other measures, the G280 is a strong performer in comparison with the combined average of its super-midsize and entry-level large-cabin competitors. However, when price is considered, the G280 soars above the competition by all but two metrics.
In doing so, the G280 establishes a new niche between super-midsize and large-cabin class aircraft. It's an aircraft that can perform most transatlantic missions flown by large-cabin aircraft on less fuel with no sacrifice in speed. Its 7,000-ft. cabin and G550-like sound levels reduce fatigue. It will sleep four comfortably on North America to Europe overnight missions, while providing a productive work environment for them when they're awake. The commodious full-service galley and enlarged lavatory with vacuum toilet also are well-suited to 8-hr. missions between continents.
The super-midsize aircraft market has been disappointingly flat since the bottom fell out of the world economy four years ago. Gulfstream declines to release its G280 order book, but industry sources estimate there is a 50 to 100 aircraft backlog.
When the market recovers, the G280 will be ready to seize a much larger share. Bombardier and Cessna, among other manufacturers, also believe the super-midsize market is due for major improvement. Cessna's 4,000-nm range Longitude is due in 2017, and market leader Bombardier is mulling over a next-generation Challenger 300.
But others will now have to catch up to Gulfstream. With deliveries now under way, the G280 is the aircraft other airframers will use as a basis of comparison for years to come. BCA