Once we were farther west, the controller cleared us up to the flight levels, though we suffered through numerous level-offs along the way. Once climbing, the G280 performed just as Gulfstream claimed it would. Autothrottles engaged, and, climbing directly to FL430, the airplane seemed to have plenty of power in reserve.
The cockpit of the 280 is a very nice place to do business. The seats are remarkably comfortable; there’s a multi-zone environmental control, so it’s always comfortable up front; the controls are large and easy to use; and even the sunshades are best in class.
At FL430, we were indicating Mach .85, the 280’s Mmo, and the numbers were all as Gulfstream said they would be.
I’d say fuel management was easy, but after you have the airplane fueled back at the airport, there’s no actual managing to be done. It’s all completely automatic.
We descended back down to the mid-teens, asked for and got a block of airspace from 13,000 to 17,000 feet, and did some airwork, including steep turns, stalls to the stick pusher in various configurations, and some simulated single-engine work. It was all a delight, with no surprises, other than the realization that it would be really hard to get into trouble in this airplane in many of the usual boneheaded ways. We even did a couple of low-speed protection maneuvers, setting the airplane up to have an autopilot stall, only to see the autothrottles come to the rescue before anything bad could happen.
After airwork we headed over to Abilene and did some landings. For those of you who haven’t landed a relatively large jet like the G280, it’s a very different kind of experience than landing a light airplane, in part because the jet is traveling over the ground very fast — Vref in the G280 is typically in the neighborhood of 120 knots — the landing gear is fairly tall, and the sight picture looks very different from what you’d expect. That all said, landing the G280 was very straightforward from a midsize jet perspective — I won’t say it was “easy,” because it’s a specialized skill, but there was nothing unexpected in the process. At Abilene we did a couple of normal landings and then following a V1 cut (where the power for one engine is reduced to simulate an engine failure immediately after you’ve committed to the takeoff).
With one engine pulled back, the airplane offers some automatic asymmetrical thrust compensation help, but it really didn’t feel bad without it. The 280 climbed very well out of Abilene despite the hot day, and I brought it around for a single-engine pattern and approach to a full stop.
After that we did something that was the highlight of my flight, perhaps of many years of flights: a rejected takeoff with autobraking. With the autobraking set at the maximum value, we lined up, and I advanced the throttles. At around 80 knots my copilot announced “abort, abort,” and I pulled the throttle levers all the way back. Immediately the autobrakes took control, braking the airplane very aggressively and in an incredibly straight line — much better, no doubt, than I would have done. The whole maneuver, including accelerating, pulling the power back and letting the autobrakes do their thing took about 2,000 feet total. Wow.
We taxied back, got our clearance and made our way back to Love, where a healthy crosswind was blowing. Once we arrived, for once in my life I saved my best landing of the day for last and for an airplane I hope to fly again soon.
Finally a Gulfstream
Now that Gulfstream has earned certification for the G280, it has on its hands the leading midsize business jet — and a beautiful one at that. It is, however, much more than that: It is an airplane that combines great range; a remarkable cabin; numerous innovative safety features, including autobraking and autothrottles; a cutting-edge avionics suite; available HUD and EVS; and Gulfstream’s famous aftermarket support. In short, Gulfstream has, for all its hard work, spirit of innovation, commitment to safety and vision, created a super-midsize airplane that is in every way a Gulfstream. Not a bad result.