The avionics allow several capabilities that older Pro Line packages, such as that in the G200, don’t have. These include approach charts, satellite weather and, notably, WAAS for LPV approaches, something that’s increasingly a must for business aircraft, which often fly to airports that might not have runways with ILS approaches but often have LPV approaches with low minimums.
The package also includes autothrottles, which are nicely integrated into avionics displays and the automatic flight control system. The autothrottles make the pilots’ jobs easier, safer and more predictable, and they also offer a level of precision that’s hard or impossible to achieve while controlling the power manually.
In addition to the autothrottles, there are a number of safety features that you don’t find on airplanes in this class, including autobraking and an emergency auto-descent mode, as well.
There are a couple of optional safety features that are rare on airplanes in this class, including an available head-up display (HUD) for superior airplane control, and second-generation enhanced vision system (EVSII) for reduced approach minimums, down to 100 feet AGL in some instances.
When Gulfstream decided to build a better super-midsize model, it committed itself to creating a best-in-class cabin, and it did just that. The cabin can be configured for eight, nine or 10 passengers, and there are multiple layouts within some of those seating options, several of them with a new side-facing divan.
With a 6-foot, 1-inch ceiling height, 23-inch wide aisle and nearly 7 feet at the shoulders, the cabin is huge by midsize standards. Speaking of the center walkway: In the day of flat-floor cabins, having an aisle at all seems outmoded. In this case, however, it’s not really an aisle at all. Instead of the walkway being recessed to offer better center headroom, Gulfstream has put raised platforms under the seating sections in order to seat passengers at the widest part of the cabin. By using highly articulated seats (which are comfortable too), passengers can slide their seats outboard toward the aisle to give themselves and their row mates even more space. It’s a remarkably spacious cabin.
The first thing you notice stepping into the G280 cabin is the quality of the light. Not only are there more windows (an extra two per side), but the windows also look even larger than they are, thanks to a brilliantly designed new window reveal that seems to add a few inches to the size of the glass while adding an unmistakable touch of style.
Gulfstream also introduced a new passenger-first approach known as “cabin essential” design, a philosophy intended to give the cabin facilities the same kind of redundancy as the main aircraft systems have.
One big new feature is the rear baggage area, which, with the removal of the fuselage fuel tank, is huge, with a capacity of 120 cubic feet of bags. It’s also now accessible in flight, something that passengers love.
The galley is much larger, too, as is the lavatory, both of which will be much appreciated on those seven-hour legs that many owners will be buying the airplane to fly.
Wringing It Out
I traveled up to Dallas Love (KDAL) in the Cirrus to meet the folks from Gulfstream and to learn about and fly the G280. As with the G200, the G280 will be built in Israel by Gulfstream partner IAI, then flown “green” to the United States, where it will get paint and interior at one of Gulfstream’s completion centers.
I had the chance to tour Gulfstream’s Dallas facility and see the many ways that Gulfstream makes the interior of the G280 very light, very strong and very stylish.
When it came time to fly the G280, I hopped into the left seat, with Gulfstream flight test pilots Bob Wilson in the right seat and Brian Dickerson in the jumpseat. The startup checklist is extensive and takes some time to complete, especially with a pilot new to the airplane along for the trip. But the Plane-View suite makes it go faster, speeding up the process by doing such things as automatically displaying the page for the system being checked.
Startup of the Honeywell engines was, as in all fadec turbofans I’ve flown, a matter of hitting the “start” button and then monitoring the start sequence. If there were to be a hot or hung start (an unlikely occurrence), the system would handle the shutdown procedure automatically.
Taxiing is done with a tiller. Like many jets taxied with these side-mounted steering handles, the G280 feels a little twitchy on the ground until you learn to make exceedingly small inputs. After a few minutes, I felt right at home.
On the takeoff roll, I used the tiller to steer the airplane until 80 knots, which happens very quickly, at which point I transitioned to the rudder pedals for directional control before, shortly afterward, moving both hands to the yoke passing V1. Before I could blink, we were at rotation. I commanded gear up, and away we went, rocketing all the way up to, well, 2,500 feet, as we were smack-dab in the middle of Dallas’ Class Bravo airspace. I hand-flew, getting the feel for the 280. It, I was not surprised, flies like a Gulfstream — solid, precise and satisfying.