Long-range business jets meet market demands with global reach, enhanced utility, and greater comfort
Improved payload, performance, and features make flying to remote destinations increasingly efficient, productive, and enjoyable.
By Don Van Dyke
ATP/Helo/CFII, F28, Bell 222.
Pro Pilot Canadian Technical Editor
Long-/ultra-long range (LR/ULR) aircraft are purpose-built for non-stop flights planned to exceed 2500 nm (or 5 hrs duration) and 6000 nm (or 12 hrs duration), respectively.
They fulfill a need for capacity and utility beyond the reach of smaller jets, and are optimized to make such flights convenient, comfortable, and cost effective, while meeting requirements for reliability, redundancy, and performance – important considerations when operating over remote or challenging areas.
Powerplants. Business aviation champions new propulsion technology featured in engines from a range of OEMs. New core designs and parts made from ceramic matrix composites require significantly less scheduled maintenance activity and fewer inspections, while delivering greater thrust, reliability, and lower specific fuel consumption (SFC).
Flight decks. Innovations include improved data concentration networks (DCNs), which constantly monitor all aircraft systems, advising pilots of potential faults, and automatically switching to redundant systems when necessary.
Fly-by-wire (FBW) control reduces workload, improves comfort, and affords precise management of features like airport moving maps, real-time traffic, advanced weather detection, and vision systems (enhanced, synthetic, or combined).
Honeywell’s Symmetry Flight Deck for Gulfstream includes civil aviation’s first linked active control sidesticks (ACSs), allowing non-verbal tactile communication of flight control inputs between captain and first officer.
Large-format touchscreens are used to improve situational awareness and information management by replacing 70% or more of the buttons and switches found on traditional aircraft instrument and flight control panels. Operational goals are often met with enhanced technology.
A recently approved synthetic vision guidance system (SVGS) upgrade allows the aircraft to be flown, with or without a head-up display (HUD), to a decision height (DH) of 150 ft instead of 200 ft. Confined airports may be accessible to the Dassault Falcon 6X, designed to be capable of steep approaches up to 6 degrees.
The Gulfstream Predictive Landing Performance System (PLPS) provides pilots with visual/aural alerts to avoid a landing overrun either by adjusting the approach or by executing a go-around.
Cabins. The Dassault Falcon 6X has the largest cabin of any long-range business jet, emphasizing passenger comfort as a key design driver and market differentiator. The latest LR/ULR jet interiors offer advanced functionality, and aesthetics reflecting personal tastes.
Layouts may include seats which can be converted into beds and positioned near windows and cabin controls. Cabin management systems (CMSs) control a variety of environment, comfort, connectivity, and entertainment schemes.
And some environmental control systems (ECSs) incorporate ionization processes to eliminate pathogens and allergens, while others provide 100% fresh, never-recirculated air. Sleep/wake-cycle-based cabin lighting, offered in certain LR/ULR types, is customizable to extend either sleep or productivity, and synchronize circadian rhythms to the time at destination.
Secure Ku-/Ka-band connectivity is an increasingly important cabin element, as are advanced inflight entertainment (IFE) systems featuring full-range speakers, digital signal processing and seat-centric sound technology to personalize a vivid cinematic and listening experience.
Milestones. Airbus Corporate Jets (ACJ) recently announced the ACJ TwoTwenty business jet, adapted from the A220. The new offering boasts a range of 5650 nm and impressive fuel efficiency. Bombardier has delivered the first customer aircraft fuelled with certified sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), environmentally, socially, and economically superior to fossil fuels.
The new super-midsize Cessna Citation Longitude received type certification in late 2020, and the Dassault Falcon 6X and Gulfstream G700 are expected to enter service early next year.
Emerging innovations. Renewed enthusiasm for long-range supersonic business jets, like the Aerion AS2 and Spike S-512, reflects the improved economics of rising market volumes. Societal pressures to reduce both emissions and journey times, and to increase access to urban areas, together with disruptive technologies, are already driving innovation optimistically forward.
Don Van Dyke is professor of advanced aerospace topics at Chicoutimi College of Aviation – CQFA Montréal. He is an 18,000-hour TT pilot and instructor with extensive airline, business and charter experience on both airplanes and helicopters. A former IATA ops director, he has served on several ICAO panels. He is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and is a flight operations expert on technical projects under UN administration.