While its speed is good, the 650 is not a barnburner — it is a Mach .78 to Mach .80 airplane at cruise, though it can do that speed remarkably economically for a jet of its size. At the flight levels, remember, economy is equal to range. For our flight, we commanded Mach .77 and were rewarded with a fuel burn of 1,100 pounds per hour.
Our descent was typical of the 650. At 290 knots the airplane comes down at around 3,000 fpm, and even below 10,000, the rates of descent can stay high if needed without overspeeding, thanks to the increase in Vmo below 8,000. Also, the flap speed has been increased. Full flaps can be commanded at speeds as high as 160 knots, which makes arrivals easier to plan.
Again, for such a large airplane, the 650 hand-flies very nicely. It is easy to maneuver, with a trim system that feels very natural with a response that is not too fast and not too slow. The big “ram’s horn” yokes provide plenty of authority, and the controls (hydraulic for the ailerons and rudder and mechanical for the elevator) are nicely harmonized.
Back in the pattern, the airplane demonstrated these nice qualities. After a purposely missed approach (more on this in a bit) we flew a standard traffic pattern back in for the landing. On approach, the 650 flies very much like an airliner, though at speeds — our Vref was 124 knots — that are not fast by large bizjet standards. The spool-up time on the big Rolls engines is understandably longer than I’m used to on the CitationJet. This requires that the pilot watch the trends closely and make power changes before the airspeed degrades and not afterward.
We touched down just beyond the aiming point, and per Ozay’s request, I brought the airplane to a stop using only the thrust reversers. That’s another benefit of added power that you don’t hear much: increased reverser power.
Avionics a Big Deal
Our purposely missed approach back home to São José dos Campos was intended to demonstrate Honeywell’s SmartLanding utility. While it felt strange to purposely aim a thousand feet beyond the aiming point, the system warned that I was too fast and that I was landing long, that I was “too high,” then “too fast” and finally that the approach was “unstable.” It’s great confirmation that an approach needs to be abandoned.
The system is dependent on the new avionics in the 650. While the layout of the panel looks nearly identical to that of the Legacy 600, the 650 features the Primus Elite cockpit, which was a Flying magazine Editors’ Choice award recipient last year. The system ingeniously swaps out LCDs for the former CRT displays in the Primus 1000 in previous Legacy jets. Because the form factor of the displays remains the same, the avionics upgrade was fast and extremely cost-effective.
Most importantly, the new panel gives pilots of the 650 great new safety utilities, including Honeywell’s SmartLanding and SmartRunway. Both are designed to cut down on the chance of an accident on the runway, which remains one of the most common types of business aircraft accidents.
But the new displays do much more than that. They give pilots graphic satellite weather. Jeppesen terminal-procedures charts display very nicely on the dual MFDs. There’s also vertical navigation integrated into the system that can fly vertical profiles calculated by the FMS that include both speed and altitude restrictions. These can be entered into the FMS, but they abide by the airplane’s operating limitations.