Intercontinental business jets

A look at current business aircraft development shows large-cabin long-range transonic jets will lead the way.

Representative large-cabin intercontinental bizjets showing maximum range in nautical miles.

And a new fiber/metal laminate exhibits superior strength, resistance to metal fatigue, and damage tolerance.

It is so light that a transport-aircraft wing made from the laminate would be up to 20% lighter (13,230–17,640 lb) than one made from carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) composites, netting lower manufacturing, maintenance and fuel consumption costs.

Wing design. NASA says the ability to cut drag by controlling the amount of laminar flow offers potential improvements in fuel efficiency, range and payload that "far exceed" any known single aeronautical technology. Fuel savings of up to 30% for subsonic commercial aircraft have been suggested.

MEA. First implemented commercially on the Airbus A380 airliner, more electric architecture (MEA) is an advanced design concept which replaces hydraulic and bleed air systems and plumbing with electrical alternatives, possibly coupled with fiber optic or carbon nanotube cabling.

This makes more aircraft weight available to passengers, fuel and mission payloads. Another application would be electrically driven nose landing gear for engineless taxi.

FBW. Fly-by-wire (FBW) flight control reduces pilot workload and provides envelope protection functions which complement inherently stable designs. The world's first FBW business jet, the Dassault Falcon 7X, has now been joined by the Gulfstream G650. The concept is mature and will be incorporated in more new designs.

Flightdeck. Large-format displays—incorporating navigation, weather, traffic and terrain avoidance, communication, flight controls, engine monitoring and enhanced vision into one cockpit system—will evolve into a synthetic virtual windshield, replacing the HUD and possibly the windshield itself.

PBN. Qualifying a business aircraft fleet for performance-based navigation (PBN) operations involves new equipment, procedures and pilot training. There are 2 categories of PBN procedure—area navigation (RNAV) and required navigation performance (RNP).

Each requires increasing levels of navigation performance, with RNP authorization required (RNP AR) requiring the highest level. This enhanced mode of PBN ensures that an aircraft can fly predetermined, precise flightpaths, shorter tracks, in congested airspace and in difficult terrain.

Innovations for 2030 aircraft may include hybrid electric types.

RNP AR procedures rely on a combination of GPS navigation and the aircraft's flight management computer.

Four-dimensional trajectory based operations (4-DTBO) are at the core of Next­Gen and Europe's Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) program.
Cabin management systems.

Client-driven cabin design goals include improved convenience, connectivity, comfort and control. Many aspects of aircraft cabin management systems are driven by consumer electronics (such as Android mobile operating system or Apple iPad).

They include touchscreen user interfaces, advanced connectivity for voice, data and entertainment, flight planning, cabin (moving maps, satellite TV, content subscription management) and maintenance services (wireless updates of FMS and other databases and charts, fault histories and LRU diagnostics, anywhere).

Going supersonic

Long-term interest in a supersonic business jet (SSBJ) persists because it is a segment of the private transport market where air commerce economics don't apply. Small groups of high-net-worth or high-value passengers (such as executives or heads of state) may find value in higher-speed transport.

Given the diffuse nature of today's global activity—and no Concordes being available for emergency use—interest in an SSBJ is rekindled.

No SSBJs are currently available but several designs have emerged. An SSBJ would be about the same size as traditional subsonic bizjets, transporting 6–12 passengers and 2 crew, and costing $80 million or more.

Synthetic vision systems, such as this NASA display, will evolve using 4D to provide pilots with a visually familiar but virtual means of understanding aircraft condition, trajectory and operating environment.

It would be transatlantic-capable with sonic boom characteristics enabling it to fly over land (at least in defined corridors) in the 2025 timeframe.

Current designs predict a 90,000 to 114,000-lb MTOW, and a range of 4200–4900 nm at M 1.4–2.0 while cruising at FL510–600.

The main environmental issue is the sonic boom which proved so problematic for earlier generation supersonic transports. NASA will continue to aid the international community in defining a defendable modification of rules that today severely limit the economic viability of the technology—including FAA's ban on overland supersonic flight.


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