Flight controls are a mixed approach on the 280, with fly-by-wire spoilers and rudder, conventional manually powered ailerons with geared tabs for good control feel at any speed, and a hydro-mechanical elevator control with electronic hardover protection. There are several additional flight control failure protections built in, including independent roll control — so the failure of the spoilers or ailerons are not a deal-breaker — and the pilot and copilot can disconnect their controls from each other in case of a control jam.
The key to a winning airplane program these days is creating a product that has value, a quality that is arrived at by looking at the model’s combination of performance, reliability, economy and comfort, among other factors, and deriving some overall number. All of those factors are important, but the key one, it’s fair to say, is performance, for without that ingredient no one will be interested in the airplane to begin with.
The original goal for the G250 was a range of 3,400 nautical miles, but soon after flight testing commenced, it became clear that the airplane was going to do better than that — and it did, soon stretching out to its official figure of 3,600 nm NBAA IFR range with four passengers at its high-speed cruise of Mach .80. You can actually squeeze almost 100 nm more out of the 280 if you pull the power back to Mach .78. Conversely, at the airplane’s high-speed figure of Mach .85 (Mmo), the G280 will travel 3,000 nm, given the same assumptions as above. This is likely the speed that many crews will use when traveling in North America or within Western Europe. If you’ve got the speed, use it.
The result of this kind of range with speed is an airplane that will reliably do both New York to London and London to New York against 85 percent probability winds — the only airplane in its class, according to Gulfstream, that can make that claim. From New York, the 280 can fly nonstop to Lima, Peru, or Quito, Ecuador, plus most of Western Europe and Scandinavia, as well as Anchorage, Alaska. From London, more attractive city pairs open up, including the highly attractive destination of Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, as well as all of North Africa, the entire Middle East and much of the northeast United States. As an example of just what the airplane can do, Gulfstream flew the G280 with two crew and five passengers from Paris to New York in 7 hours and 40 minutes. The trip included a direct climb to 43,000 feet, which took just 22 minutes.
Despite its high cruise speeds, the G280 is a good performer on the runway, too, even when it gets hot outside. At maximum takeoff weight, its balanced field length is just 4,750 feet, meaning it can use many airports the airlines can’t dream of accessing. At maximum landing weight, the G280 requires just 3,050 feet to get down and stopped, something I experienced firsthand in a dramatic fashion on my test flight.
With better climb and takeoff performance than its predecessor, the G280 boasts impressive hot and high capabilities too. With four passengers on a 77-degree day, it can take off from a 5,000-foot-high runway using just over 5,000 feet of runway and fly for 2,500 nm thereafter. In other words, from Colorado, you can take off on a warm day with a good load of happy passengers and their luggage and fly anywhere in the United States with ease, something not many bizjets can claim.
Efficiency and Power
Part of the magic behind the G280’s remarkable performance are its new engines, Honeywell HTF7250G turbofans, upgraded variants of the engines that power the Challenger 300 and will be in the Embraer Legacy 450 and 500 emerging midsize jets. The engines enable the kind of performance Gulfstream is banking on to make the G280 a long-term sales success. The new turbofans, which feature full-authority digital engine control (fadec) and an automatic power reserve that can be relied on in a pinch if more power were to be desperately needed, put out 7,445 pounds of thrust apiece.
Thanks mostly to experience gained on the Bombardier Challenger 300, the Honeywell HT7000-series engines have a million hours of fleet experience and have proved themselves as stars in their thrust range. The HTF7000-series engines are powerful, efficient, quiet and sophisticated. They help the G280 come in a remarkable 16dB below Stage 4 noise requirements, and the NOx emissions are 25 percent below the latest and most stringent standards, according to Gulfstream.
The Honeywell engines were key to the G280 hitting its performance goals, because not only are they powerful, for high speeds in cruise, but they are efficient as well. Thanks to those engines, as well as the wing design, the G280 burns 7 percent to 12 percent less fuel than older-generation jets. That allows the G280 to use less jet-A per mile, making it both a longer-legged and a faster airplane, two traits that often are mutually exclusive.
The avionics suite in the G280 is the PlaneView280 flight deck, which is a development of the Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion flight deck. As with avionics suites from other manufacturers in its other models, Gulfstream has taken Fusion and made it its own, using a combination of symbology, display arrangement, cursor control device and other hardware design to make the avionics solution feel familiar to pilots of other late-model Gulfstream jets.
Pilots control the cursor and function selections though the use of side-mounted cursor control devices that resemble side-mounted control sticks.
In the G280 the layout gives the crew three 15-inch displays. The center display can be windowed in a number of ways, and because the screens are so large, even when the approach chart, for instance, is on half the display, it still is large enough that you can read the chart easily without leaning forward or squinting.