On The Fly

On the fly

Stuck in the middle

The 2008 economic recession had a major impact on the business aviation market. Individuals and companies decided not to purchase new aircraft, and many existing jets were put up for sale. As the market has started to recover, Jame Shea says growth has been limited to the high end and the low ends – causing a slowdown in demand for mid-sized jets. FlyCorporate's James Shea reports.

“There has been some recovery in the US, with midsize (aircraft) picking up several points last year,” says WingX Advance Managing Director Richard Koe. “But there is still a lot of over-capacity in this space, and it´s very difficult for new models to find demand.”

According to the Bombardier's Market Forecast 2014-2033, 12.5% of the medium-sized jet market is pre-owned. The report believes the mid-sized jet market will see 7,650 deliveries between 2014 and 2033, representing 35% of the overall market.

The super mid-sized segment has been the exception to the rule. According to Koe, the Gulfstream 280 and Bombardier Challenger 300/350 have sold well since the recession.  Manufacturing companies have focused on corporate customers in the post-recession era, which have historically been the focus of the mid-sized market.

“There are some charter operators that have put midsize to good use, such as XOJet,” says Koe. “Midsize pricing has taken such a battering in the last few years that they are probably finding individual buyers looking for bargains.”

Gulfstream Aerospace Vice President of Technical Marketing and Communications Steve Cass says his company has seen an improvement in the midsized market over the last year or so. The company sold 33 midsized planes in 2014, up from 23 in 2013. This equates to 28% of all the aircraft sold by the company last year. “We have seen an improvement in the mid-cabin aircraft,” says Cass.

To better understand the mid-size market, FlyCorporate takes a look at some of the segment’s offerings:                     

Bombardier Business Aircraft

The Challenger 350 started life in 1999 as the 300. In 2013, Bombardier announced an upgrade to the model, renaming it the 350. The upgrade included new winglets, new interior and different engines. The aircraft also has room for eight passengers. The Honeywell HTF7350 engines reach 0.80 Mach and can fly up to 3,200 nm.

The Challenger 650 is the largest in the Challenger family. It was introduced in 1986 as the Challenger 600 and has been a top seller in the midsized jet category. In 2014, Bombardier upgraded the 605 and renamed the plane the Challenger 650. The 10-passenger plane has a range of up to 4,000 nm. It is powered by GE CF34-3B MTO engines. The cabin is 7 ft and 11"wide and 6 ft tall.

The Learjet 85 went on public display at the NBAA convention in 2008. However, the plane never went into full production as in early 2015 the company suspended the program’s development due to “weakness of the market.”

Cessna (part of Textron Aviation)

Cessna's Citation XLS+ was first introduced into the market in 1994 as the Citation X. It has been upgraded several times over the years. Cessna brought the Citation XLS+ to market in 2008. The plane is powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW545C engines and has a range of up to 2,100 nm.

The Cessna Citation Latitude was announced in 2011 and seats up to nine passengers. The plane has a range of 2,700 nm and reaches speeds of up to 0.80 Mach. The plane receives thrust from two Pratt & Whitney PW306D1 engines. The cabin is 6 ft 5" wide and 6 ft tall.

Cessna’s Citation Sovereign+ received FAA certification in 2004 and EASA certification in 2005. The aircraft was upgraded in 2013, increasing its range and enhancing the planes’ performance. Avionics were improved with the Garmin G5000. It can travel up to 3,190 nm at a maximum speed of 0.80 Mach.  

The Citation X+ claims to be the “fastest civilian aircraft in the sky today.” It travels at speeds of up to Mach 0.935 and seats up to 12 passengers. The plane has a range of 3,460 nm and is powered by two Rolls-Royce AE3007C2 engines. A recent updated design improves fuel efficiency.

Cessna first announced its Citation Longitude in 2012, with delivery set to begin in 2017. The plane will have a range of up to 4,000 nm and seat 12 passengers.

Dassault Falcon Jets

The Falcon 2000 has been in service since 2000, with the upgraded Falcon 2000S going into service in 2011. The plane has a maximum take off weight of 41,000 lb and can fly at speeds of up to 0.862 Mach. It has a range of 3,350 nm. The Falcon 2000XLS is the long-range version of the plane and has a range of 4,000 nm. Two Twin Pratt & Whitney Canada PW308C power the XLS.

Embraer Executive Jets

Embraer’s Legacy 450 was unveiled in 2007 and has been test flown. The smaller cousin to the Legacy 500, the Legacy 450 has not been put into service yet. The Legacy 500 was certified by the FAA in late 2014. The plane has a range of 3,125 nm and can seat up to eight passengers. The cabin is 6 ft tall and 6 ft 10" wide.

The Legacy 600 went into full production in 2002 and is built around the 37-seat ERJ-135 commercial airliner platform. The plane can seat up to 13 passengers and has one of the widest cabins in its class at 7 ft. The plane has a range of 3,400 nm and flies at speeds of up to 0.78 Mach. The Embraer Legacy 650 is the long-range version with a range of 3,900 nm.

Gulfstream

The Gulfstream 150 started life as the Astra SPX and was manufactured by Israel Aircraft Industries. Gulfstream now manufactures the jet, and it was upgraded to the 150 in 2005.

It has range of 3,010 nm and can seat up to eight passengers. The plane can fly up to 0.85 Mach and is powered by two Honeywell TFE731-40AR engines.

The Gulfstream 280 was also originally produced by Israel Aircraft Industries. It went into service in 1997 and became the G200 when Gulfstream bought the company. Gulfstream updated the aircraft in 2012 and renamed it the 280. The updated plane features redesigned wings and improved performance with two Honeywell HTF7250G engines. The cabin is 7 ft 2" wide and 6 ft 3" tall. It has a takeoff weight of 39,600 lb. and can seat up to 10 passengers. The plane has a range of 3,600 nm.

By James Shea 

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