““[Bill Gates] has been historically one of my best supporters…One of my favorite e-mails he ever sent me…I proposed this crazy project. And he sent back this two-line response: ‘This has got to be the craziest thing you’ve ever suggested. Please proceed.’” ”
A Look at Tomorrow's Business Jets Today
Some new or dramatically upgraded business jets have recently been certified, and manufacturers anticipate FAA approval for 19 more models over the next several years. Assuming the global economy improves, demand for them should be strong.
Here’s a look at the latest bizjet crop.
Airbus’s ACJ350, which offers 2,900 square feet of cabin space, will be capable of speeds up to Mach 0.85. Its 10,100-nautical-mile range will provide for nonstop connections between cities as far apart as New York and Beijing. No price has been announced, but the A350-800 airline variant sells for about $245 million. Airbus claims to have sold two ACJ350s and expects the model to enter service in the second half of next year.
Seattle-based Boeing reports orders for 11 Boeing Business Jet versions of its new Dreamliner 787-8 and three executive versions of the 787-9.
The twinjet 787 will carry some 75 passengers 9,260 miles nonstop. A problem with its lithium ion battery grounded the fleet in early 2013 but the issue has been resolved to the FAA’s satisfaction and Boeing expects to deliver the first airplane to a completion center in late 2013. With an unfinished cabin, the model sells for about $120 million.
The next airliner out the door at Boeing will be the 737 Max, the latest in a long line of successful airplanes in the 737 family. A spokesman said the company is studying options with regard to an executive version, but at press time, no decision had been made.
Meanwhile, deliveries of the Boeing Business Jet variant of the new 747-8 to independent completion centers have begun and the first customer delivery is expected in 2014.
Canadian manufacturer Bombardier Aerospace continues to move toward certification of its Learjet 85, the biggest and fastest of the family to date. The company had expected the model to enter service this year but delays have pushed the certification date to the third quarter of 2014. Bombardier reports that the model will have a high-speed cruise of Mach 0.82 and a range of 3,000 nautical miles. Priced at $19.7 million, it will occupy a market niche between the Learjet 60XR and Challenger 300.
Also in development (in Wichita, Kansas) are the Learjet 70 and 75, both of which are expected to enter service this year. The Learjet 70 is an upgrade of the Learjet 40 and will cost $11.1 million. The Learjet 75 is an enhanced version of the Learjet 45 and will sell for $13.6 million.
Bombardier’s Challenger 350 is an upgrade of the Challenger 300, with new wings, more powerful Honeywell HTF7350 engines, more range, larger interior and Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 Advanced avionics.
In the meantime, plans are proceeding for the debut of the latest members of the Global family—the Global 7000 and 8000. The 7000, with a $68.9 million price tag, will have a four-zone cabin, travel at Mach 0.90 and have a range of 7,300 nautical miles. Bombardier expects it to enter service in 2016. The 8000, with a three-zone cabin, will enter service a year later. With a $66.2 million price, it promises a range of 7,000 nautical miles and a cruise speed of Mach 0.85.
This Wichita, Kansas manufacturer announced the launch of its Citation Latitude midsize jet in 2011. In its standard configuration, the $15 million airplane will carry eight passengers at a maximum cruise speed of 442 knots. Cessna expects it to enter service in 2015.
Just six months after launch of the Latitude, the company announced the Longitude. It was envisioned as a follow-on development of the now-cancelled Citation Columbus. The super-midsize jet has the same cabin cross section as the Latitude but is nine feet longer. Cessna anticipates a range of about 4,000 nautical miles at Mach 0.82. Priced at $25.9 million, the jet is expected to be certified in 2017.
The Citation M2 fills a gap between the Citation Mustang light jet and the CJ family. Cessna says its subtle winglets will give it a range of approximately 1,300 nautical miles and a maximum cruise speed of 400 knots. The company anticipates that the $4.2 million aircraft will enter service later this year.
In the first quarter of 2013, this French manufacturer received certification for its latest business jets—the Falcon 2000S and 2000LXS.
Somewhat of a mystery is the company’s next project, tentatively referred to as the Falcon SMS, which some speculate stands for “super-midsize.” The belief is that it will replace the out-of-production Falcon 50EX. The program has received internal approval but Dassault has yet to announce a formal launch or to begin taking orders.
This Brazilian manufacturer’s latest aircraft are the Legacy 450 and 500. They are siblings in many ways, but certainly not twins. Shared amenities include a flat floor and standup headroom, cabin pressure equivalent to 6,000 feet, a wet galley and eight club seats that will convert to four full-flat sleeping surfaces. Embraer expects the $19.98 million, midsize Legacy 500 to enter service in early 2014. It will carry up to eight passengers in standard cabin configuration and have a range of 3,100 nautical miles and a maximum cruise speed of Mach 0.82. The shorter Legacy 450 also accommodates eight passengers and has a maximum cruise speed of Mach 0.82 but less range—2,300 nautical miles. The price tag also is lower, at $16.47 million. Embraer anticipates entry into service in late 2014.
Gulfstream’s much-talked-about G650—currently the fastest business jet available—and its smaller brother, the G280, were certified last September. As of press time, no news had been released about additional models in the works.
Following delays not atypical in development of any new jet, Honda Aircraft now has five airplanes in the HondaJet certification test program.
Anticipating certification and entry into service late next year, the U.S.-based company has already begun production in Greensboro, North Carolina, and plans to build 70 to 100 aircraft annually. As of early 2013, the manufacturer was claiming orders for more than 100 HondaJets.
The five-passenger twinjet’s distinctive design features engines affixed by pylons atop each wing, rather than in the more common positions below the wings. Honda Aircraft expects the $4.8 million airplane will have a range of 1,035 nautical miles and a maximum cruise speed of 420 knots.
The Swiss manufacturer of the popular single-engine PC-12NG turboprop has finally revealed details of its hush-hush PC-24 twinjet program. The PC-24 is a light jet with a large, midsize-jet cabin and a huge cargo door. The all-metal model will operate from sub-3,000-foot runways, cruise at up to 425 knots and carry four passengers 1,950 nautical miles, with reserves. Entry into service for the $8.9 million, single-pilot PC-24 is planned for 2017.