NBAA special

Gulfstream G280,  Gulfstream

© Gulfstream

Newly renamed, the new G280 super midsize is set to enter service next year


Though it now has the lucky number “8” in its name, chance has nothing to do with the carefully engineered formula for success in Gulfstream’s new G280 super midsize. The latest performance numbers for the business jet support the hypothesis.

Set for entry into service (EIS) with customers in 2012 following certification by US, European and Israeli authorities later this year, the Honeywell HTF7250G-powered twinjet, the aircraft formerly known as the G250, has met and exceeded its launch specifications based on testing of the three pre-production aircraft taking part in the certification programme. Gulfstream plans to put the first production aircraft, sn004, currently at the company’s mid-cabin completions centre in Dallas for interior completion and paint, into service following type’s certification later this year.

Gulfstream rebranded the $24 million, 10-passenger replacement for the G200 in July, saying the move was “prompted by the company’s sensitivity to the varied cultures of its international customer base.” As Flight International has previously reported, the number “250” can be translated into Mandarin as “stupid” or “idiotic”. The number “8” meanwhile is associated with good fortune.

Gulfstream G280,  Gulfstream

© Gulfstream

 Feedback from test pilots, not unexpectedly, has been positive. The G280 is a Gulfstream, after all


The company revealed on 9 October that it had demonstrated a 200nm (367km) increase in the G280’s maximum range from 3,400nm to 3,600nm while flying at the normal cruise speed of M0.80 and carrying four passengers and NBAA IFR fuel reserves. Just as important, Gulfstream demonstrated that the G280’s takeoff distance (balanced field length) at maximum takeoff weight has been cut by 64m, from 1,512m (4,960ft) to 1,448m.

The 6% improvement in range allows for servoce between a key city pair – London to New York – against prevailing headwinds. “We provided extra range by making it more efficient, not by adding any more fuel,” says Steve Cass, Gulfstream’s director of sales engineering, Compared to the G200, the aircraft it will replace, the G280, through a combination of wing and engine improvements, provides an 18% fuel efficiency boost over the G200, says Cass.

Takeoff distance in particular was a crucial element to the G200 operators Gulfstream and joint venture partner Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) consulted with before deciding to launch a clean sheet G250 in 2005. On an apples to apples basis, the G200 requires 1,850m to take off, 22% more distance than the latest numbers for the G280.

The shorter takeoff distance and increased range were achieved primarily by a new and longer Gulfstream-designed wing combined with a new and more powerful variant of the Honeywell HTF7000 turbofan engine. The HTF7250G, certified by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in May, delivers 7,445lb-thrust (33.2kN) and less emissions than its predecessor. The turbofan is approved for on-condition maintenance rather than traditional hour-based intervals. Honeywell also builds the cabin pressure control system, which holds the cabin altitude at 7,000ft at a cruise altitude of 41,000ft, down 1,000ft from the G200’s cabin at the same altitude. Maximum certificated altitude for both the G200 and G280 is 45,000ft.

Gulfstream G280,  Gulfstream

© Gulfstream


At EIS next year, Cass says Gulfstream will have nine factory-owned (Gulfstream and Jet Aviation) maintenance facilities up and running, including facilities in Las Vegas, Geneva, Dubai and Singapore. By the end of 2012, he says there will be an additional six facilities, including locations in Caracas, Moscow and Hong Kong.

In parallel with finishing up the flight testing campaign for certification, IAI is building the first four customer aircraft (sn2005-2008) on its line in Tel Aviv. “Green” G280s are assembled at IAI and flown to Dallas for completions, including paint.

Of the three pre-production flight test aircraft (sn2001, 2002 and 2003), only two are continuing to fly as the certification programme winds down. As of late September, Cass says the three aircraft had accumulated more than 1,680 flight test hours on more than 620 flights. A mechanical test airframe is undergoing fatigue testing, with 7,350 cycles out of 40,000 cycles (2.5 airframe lifetimes) completed to date. A major structural inspection conducted after 5,000 cycles showed no problems, says Cass.

Cass says test aircraft sn003 is finished with its initial certification campaign and is now being equipped for the head-up display (HUD) and enhanced vision system (EVS) portion of the test programme. As an option, G280 customers can purchase a Rockwell Collins HGS-6250 HUD and Kollsman EVS II infrared camera for the aircraft, allowing for the same reduced landing minimums that larger Gulfstream aircraft offer. Cass expects the functionality to be approved when the first customer deliveries begin next year.

Gulfstream G280,  Gulfstream

© Gulfstream


Certification testing still to be completed includes high altitude airport performance, certain test points needed for the flight simulator model and final landing performance. “We’re waiting for some final fine tuning of the autobraking system,” says Cass.

The G280’s brake-by-wire system, built by Meggitt, has individual brake pad temperature and pressure monitoring and an automatic braking function with low, medium, high and rejected take off settings. Along with dual rudder-by-wire control, the aircraft also has spoiler-by-wire controls. Pitch control is handled by more traditional hydraulically powered elevators and roll control by manual ailerons with spoiler assist. Fly-by-wire systems are built by Moog.

Cass says a Level D simulator for the aircraft, to be based at FlightSafety International in Dallas, will be completed along with course work for the type-rating course in the second quarter of 2012. Maintenance training will also be based in Dallas, he says.

In the cockpit, the G280 will represent the first in-service application of Rockwell Collins’ Pro Line Fusion integrated avionics suite, a product selected for a variety of upcoming business aviation and regional aviation applications. Specifically in the G280, the avionics will be part of the Gulfstream-branded PlaneView 280 system

The panel features three 15.3-in (390mm) displays, with two control and display units (CDUs) framing the throttle quadrant and two cursor control devices on the pilots’ side panels. On the primary flight displays (PFDs), flight information can be shared 50/50 with maps and other large synoptics as with the company’s large-cabin aircraft. In the centre multi-function display, flight planning and aircraft health information can be split into quarters, with enhanced vision, if selected, showing on either a quarter or half-display. The flight deck also features a new standby multi-function controller on the panel. Gulfstream has also dedicated a quarter window of the synoptic display for ground servicing information, compiling and displaying data that allows pilots to perform a pre-flight without opening any doors, an idea first put into practice on the G550.

Cass says test pilots are flying with PlaneView 280 software version at the moment, but an updated version 3.1 will be installed next year when customer deliveries begin. He says there are “minor enhancements” in the next software load, including HUD and EVS functionality, the latest traffic and collision avoidance system (TCAS 7.1) capability and controller-pilot datalink communications (CPDLC).

Feedback from test pilots, not unexpectedly, has been positive. The G280 is a Gulfstream, after all.

Flight International 4 October 2011

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