Bombardier Global 7500
Bombardier Aviation is ramping up deliveries of its flagship Global 7500 ultra-long-range business jet. The Canadian aircraft builder says the Global 8000, a slightly higher- powered and longer-legged aircraft, will for now remain only a development program. A company spokesman says, “Given that the majority of our orders are for Global 7500 aircraft, we are first and foremost focused on delivering to those customers.”
An indication of just how important the Global 7500 is to the Bombardier business-aviation product line emerged in early July when the company announced that the aircraft had earned the first bizav environmental product declaration. Bombardier Aviation and the International EPD System, an environmental-declaration group based in Sweden, published the environmental product declaration for the 7500 jet that provides detailed information about the Global’s life cycle as it relates to carbon dioxide emissions, noise, water consumption and other key environmental-impact indicators. The International EPD System is a program for voluntary and transparent communication of the life-cycle environmental impact of goods and services. With more than 15 years of experience, and a library consisting of certified environmental product declarations from 31 countries, the International EPD System serves as a credible choice for business-to-business and business-to-consumer communications based on ISO 14025 and other international standards.
Bombardier elaborates further: “The publication of the Global 7500 aircraft EPD is an important milestone in the advancement of Bombardier Aviation’s overarching environmental-sustainability strategy, which encompasses increasing the adoption of sustainable alternative fuels, reducing its CO₂ footprint, enhancing aircraft recyclability and sustainably sourcing—all as a part of its EcoDesign approach and in support of industry-wide carbon-reduction goals.” The 7500′s EPD is the outcome of many years of collaboration with Bombardier’s supply chain, a rigorous analysis from the program’s outset, and the robust certification process completed throughout 2019. The Bombardier EcoDesign team applied its product-innovation life-cycle process throughout the development of the Global 7500 aircraft to minimize the jet’s impact upon the environment, from the design and manufacture of the aircraft to the end of its life.
The Global 7500 aircraft is powered by the new GE Passport engine, incorporating advanced technologies and materials to improve durability, deliver a lower noise output and improve fuel consumption. Additionally, the 7500′s high-speed transonic wing cuts down on drag, reduces fuel burn and lowers emissions, improving the ride, as well as offering excellent short-field and high-speed performance. Base price on the Global 7500 is $72.8 million.
Dassault Falcon 6X
Dassault Aviation says its roomiest new aircraft, the Falcon 6X, is making steady progress toward its first flight scheduled for early 2021, despite the harsh economic conditions around the world. The company says 6X certification and entry into service remain on schedule for 2022. Production operations at Dassault’s main assembly facilities at Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport in France have returned to normal following a brief disruption occasioned by the COVID-19 crisis.
Dassault says employees used the time to create safer procedures with smaller crews on the production floor and are once again working in two shifts.
The French aircraft manufacturer says the 6X will debut with a large cabin—6 feet, 6 inches tall by 8 feet, 6 inches wide—and a nonstop range that makes flights between Los Angeles and Moscow or Paris and Tokyo possible. The 6X can cruise at speeds up to Mach 0.90. The Dassault flight-test team is currently coordinating with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and the FAA to finalize the flight test and validation program.
The 6X will include a new-generation digital flight-control system, currently undergoing testing, to run all moving surfaces including a new multifunction control area called a flaperon, adapted from Dassault fighter aircraft.
Aircraft two and three of the three preproduction flight-certification aircraft to be built are in advanced stages of construction, and have been powered up and begun ground testing of the electric, hydraulic and fuel systems. The second aircraft recently had its wings mated to the fuselage. Aircraft number three will receive a full interior to evaluate systems functionality, acoustics, airflow, comfort and other factors. Interior furnishings, environmental systems, electronics and other equipment are currently being tested in a ground-test rig prior to installation on the aircraft. Each aircraft will be heavily instrumented and capable of performing aerodynamic, performance and systems testing. Ground-fatigue and damage-tolerance testing has also been initiated. This test cycle will later be extended to include stress testing to maximum load limits and beyond.
Construction of the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW812D engines to power the 6X is also ramping up. Dassault says: “An initial airborne test campaign [took place] earlier this year aboard Pratt & Whitney’s Boeing 747 testbed aircraft, and a second series of flight tests [were] scheduled this summer. To date, the PW812D has accumulated over 200 hours in the air and more than 1,600 hours on the ground. It has also completed initial certification tests, including bird-strike, ice-ingestion and blade-off tests.” Dassault lists the price on a new 6X as $47 million.
Gulfstream’s innovative aircraft-development programs hit a new high with the debut of the G700, introduced at the National Business Aviation Association conference in October 2019. It’s target? Nothing less than combining what the company promotes as “the industry’s most spacious cabin with the highest speeds at the longest range.” A fair statement? Perhaps—powered by twin Rolls-Royce Pearl 700 engines at a rated takeoff thrust of 18,250 pounds, the G700 is poised to take Gulfstream to the next level.
As of press time, the G700 had logged more than 100 test flights, completing flutter testing and expanding the high- and low-speed areas of the flight envelope. Though flight tests have taken it to Mach 0.99 at 54,000 feet, the G700′s performance targets include an MMO of Mach 0.925 and a maximum operating altitude of 51,000 feet. Takeoff distance at sea level, ISA conditions and maximum takeoff weight is healthy at 6,250 feet—but from that departure, lot of the world comes within reach. Maximum range currently stands at 7,500 nautical miles, at Mach 0.85 (with NBAA IFR reserves, eight passengers and four crew).
With the company’s proprietary Symmetry Flight Deck up front, featuring an enhanced flight-vision system and Gulfstream’s predictive landing-performance system, operators meeting certain requirements can take advantage of dual head-up displays, expanding the airports usable in low IFR conditions.
Several cabin comforts—now critical in today’s climate—distinguish the G700 from others in the class. Top of the list: 100 percent fresh air—zero recycled—through the environmental control system, which provides peace of mind for passengers with health concerns. The extra-large windows enhance the view outside, and circadian lighting allows for adapting to a new time zone before arrival. Ergonomic seats that turn to berths for better rest and the Jet ConneX Ka-Band Wi-Fi system complete the interior package.
Gulfstream anticipates the first customer deliveries in 2022, with certification preceding that, though the company is not providing an estimated month or quarter. Price begins at $78 million with option packages available, including a master suite—and a stand-up shower, crew compartment or passenger galley, a three-place divan certified for takeoff and landing, and a speakerless sound system.
Beechcraft King Air 360
The new flagships of the Beechcraft line, the King Air 360 and 360ER, saw daylight in August with the announcement by Textron Aviation. With autothrottles, better pressurization and increased cabin comfort, the latest King Air aims for easing pilot workload, as well as turning a 56-year-old workhorse into one that’s a bit more user-friendly and firmly planted in the modern age.
Key among these upgrades is the Innovative Solutions & Support ThrustSense autothrottle, which supports the pilot throughout the flight regimes—including takeoff, landing and go-arounds—computing and controlling power settings. The system provides envelope protection that adjusts the power output of the engine during engine-out operations, granting better pilot control and allowing the airplane to accelerate and climb on one engine.
The new digital pressurization controller automatically schedules cabin pressurization throughout the flight, taking this task from the pilot’s workload during busy climbs and descents—and improving passenger comfort in the process. The airframe went through structural updates to increase the maximum cabin pressure, resulting in a 10 percent decrease in cabin altitude compared to the King Air 350i. At 27,000 feet, for example, this translates into a cabin altitude of 5,960 feet. The removal of the cabin-pressurization controls from the instrument panel unclutters it by replacing these—and the flap indicator—with digital displays on the Collins Aerospace Pro Line Fusion MFD in the integrated flight deck.
The cabin has seen great improvement as well, clearly informed by the materials and solutions found in Textron Aviation’s Citation line—but keeping the King Air’s flexible-missions flavor. Along with a re-imagined interior and new colorways, user-pleasing features such as the manual window shades have returned, which are relatively easy to replace in service. The popular King Ranch interior upgrade remains available among the new options.
First customer deliveries are projected to take place in the fourth quarter of 2020. Upon picking up their new King Air, pilots will be able to take advantage of the airplane’s compatibility with sustainable aviation fuel—available at the company’s service center in Wichita, Kansas. Base price for both models reflects no change from before: $7.9 million for the 360 and $8.795 million for the 360ER.
Daher has pushed forward into a new level of safety with the certification in July of the HomeSafe emergency landing system—the latest iteration of Garmin’s Autoland. The system comes standard on all TBM 940s moving forward, and it’s available as a retrofit on all 2020 models previously delivered, at a cost of $85,000.
The system on the 940 is activated by the passenger or pilot using a highly visible orange button at the top of the instrument panel, or it will engage if the aircraft’s emergency descent mode is engaged. After landing, HomeSafe simultaneously activates the brakes to come to a stop and then shuts down the engine on its own. It was critical to Daher to keep the underlying complexity as simple as possible to the user, with a passenger-centric presentation in mind. The activation button itself is purposefully placed outside of the instrument panel’s main topography for this reason—because “that’s the pilot’s area,” according to the company. This way, the passenger can press the button without any fear that they are crossing into that territory.
The HomeSafe system is enabled on the 940 by its standard autothrottle, working through the autopilot to make power inputs to the Pratt & Whitney PT6 engine. This builds on the safety features already present from the previous 930 model—the underspeed protection, electronic stability protection and emergency descent mode already inherent to the Garmin G3000 integrated flight deck.
With a maximum range of 1,730 nm, max cruise speed of 330 knots and a max payload of 1,400 pounds, the 940 does a lot of things very well, making for a good balance between key features, such as takeoff and landing distances (2,380 feet and 2,430 feet, respectively), range, cabin comfort, and price. The company had expected to deliver up to 10 units in 2020 by the end of the second quarter, with total deliveries reaching 45. Base price is a little more than $4.29 million.
Epic E1000 GX
Epic Aircraft won Flying’s 2020 Innovation Award for the original E1000, which indicates the level of design and engineering that went into the nearly two decades of work to bring the turboprop to life. The E1000 gained its type certificate in November 2019, and Epic obtained the production certificate in July 2020—ensuring that each airplane delivered conforms to a high standard as well as allowing for efficiencies in manufacturing with less involvement from the FAA.
Epic began the process toward the production certificate at virtually the same time as it progressed toward the original type certification. The company was positioned to complete the final audit required by the FAA earlier in 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic temporarily pushed aside those plans. However, by working diligently with the FAA to devise new collaborative processes, using remote technologies, Epic was able to step through the last of the reviews prior to the final assessment at the Epic facilities.
The fast (333 ktas maximum cruise speed), efficient (1,560 nm maximum range) and flexible (2,254-foot takeoff and 2,399-foot landing distances) E1000 could change a pilot’s ideas about what a turboprop can do. Unique safety additions also come with the package, such as the Wedge Annunciator Panel, which serves as a status panel to use before takeoff and landing—activating a checklist when the takeoff/go-around button on the power lever is pressed and held.
The E1000′s Garmin G1000 integrated flight deck features two 10-inch PFDs on the pilot and copilot sides, a 12-inch MFD in the center, and a keypad mounted below on the central console. For certification, the original E1000 was delivered with the Genesys Aerosystems S-Tec IntelliFlight 2100 autopilot, but the company plans for the integrated GFC 700 autopilot to come in the next version.
In fact, in September, Epic announced that new version, the E1000 GX, replaces the original model, with certification imminent. Base price for the GX (now the only E1000 model you can order): $3.85 million.
Following this past year’s announcement of the Barracuda at the Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo, Lancair is nearing completion of the first customer example and is now offering the first company demonstrator for sale. Designed as a smaller, two-seat complement to the four-place Mako that was introduced in 2017, the 310 hp Barracuda provides intriguing performance in a category with few rivals. While luxury is offered by many four-place aircraft, and high performance is offered by a handful of two-place aircraft, the Barracuda is perhaps the only example available that blends the two characteristics and supplements the result with retractable landing gear.
Like the Mako, the Barracuda utilizes Lancair’s proprietary autoretractable nose gear. The system uses logic based on flap and power settings as well as outputs from the Garmin G3X Touch system to automatically retract and extend, requiring no manual input from the pilot. Three landing-gear options are available in the Barracuda: fully retractable, fully fixed, and a new and innovative autoretractable nose-gear system. The fully fixed gear Barracuda with the 310 hp Continental IO-550-N engine lists a maximum cruise speed of 223 knots. Lancair claims the autoretractable nose gear adds 10 to 12 knots of cruise speed to this figure, and customers opting to outfit their Barracuda with fully retractable gear enjoy a max cruise speed of 245 ktas.
Powered back to 200 knots, the Barracuda can provide a still-air range of 1,000 nm while burning approximately 12 gph. Avionics packages are centered around the G3X Touch displays, and speed brakes are available to return to lower speeds, which terminate at an impressively low stall speed of only 52 knots. It’s an intriguing blend of qualities, particularly when combined with a modern, ergonomic interior. At 43.5 inches, the Barracuda’s cabin is wider than both the larger Cessna 182T and Beechcraft Bonanza G35, and the large canopy offers an unobstructed panoramic view outward.
Lancair offers a configurator on their website, where options can be added or removed to arrive at a total price of $250,000 to $350,000. A builder-assistance program is also available, in which owners build their aircraft alongside factory engineers over three to four two-week visits to the factory in Uvalde, Texas. As of this writing, Lancair is offering the demonstrator for sale at $350,000 and has one customer aircraft close to completion. For the pilot who travels alone or never carries more than one passenger, the Barracuda serves as an airborne sports coupe—an exhilarating and luxurious connection to faraway destinations.
XCub with CC393i
After successfully delivering approximately 50 XCubs with the 180 hp Lycoming O-360-C1G engine, CubCrafters is now offering an upgraded XCub with their new fuel-injected CC393i engine and a Hartzell Pathfinder propeller. Rated at 215 hp, the CC393i is the most powerful engine ever offered by CubCrafters. Despite the additional power, it weighs only 10 pounds more than the existing O-360. Lycoming produces the engine exclusively for CubCrafters, and it includes a 2,000-hour TBO and the standard Lycoming two-year warranty.
The CC393i eschews traditional magnetos in favor of Lycoming’s new dual electronic ignition system, a solid-state design with no moving parts or scheduled maintenance requirements. Compared with magnetos, the system is claimed to be lighter and more reliable while offering more power and reduced fuel consumption.
The engine was type-certificated in February, and this will be the first example of a dual EIS being used in an airplane certificated by CubCrafters. It was developed as part of an entire firewall-forward package that encompasses Hartzell’s new three-blade Pathfinder propeller. The Pathfinder utilizes composite blades and Hartzell’s new compact Raptor hub. The new hub design reduces the three-blade propeller’s weight to approximately that of the existing two-blade Trailblazer. Initially exclusive to the XCub, the propeller is optimized for the low-speed, high-power STOL flight regimes in which the airplane was designed to excel.
Similarly, CubCrafters redesigned the engine cowling and utilized new composite baffling to control cylinder-head temperatures during STOL operations. Compared with traditional baffling, the composite system is said to be more durable and less susceptible to fatigue cracking, and CubCrafters has found that it can be more precisely shaped to better control airflow and cylinder-head temperatures.
Since the launch of the CC393i engine package at EAA AirVenture 2019, CubCrafters has been soliciting pilot input with a dedicated market-research airplane. To date, the airplane has been flown and evaluated by more than 400 pilots, and CubCrafters reports that the pilots have universally applauded the power, throttle response and low cylinder-head temperatures of the new engine. The new firewall-forward package adds approximately $25,000 to the price of an O-360-powered XCub. As of press time, several CC393i-equipped XCubs are in the build process, and CubCrafters has secured deposits for more than 20 additional examples.
While there are more low-cost ways to fly than the average pilot considers at first—ultralights or gliders, anyone?—psychological barriers to entry may exist, including the acceptance of low-tech equipment, or the need to obtain a new rating to fly those models. This is not the case for the light-sport category of airplanes, which can be flown readily with a private pilot airplane certificate—and they often feature the latest technology in both the panel and their overall construction. Their relative simplicity in certification tends to keep acquisition costs down, as well as operating costs, even for the newest aircraft on the lineup.
Flight Design introduced the F2 at Aero Friedrichshafen in April 2019. The F2, powered by the fuel-injected Rotax 912iS, is classified as an Ultralight (600 kg) in Europe, or as a 650 kg CS-23 certified aircraft, and as an S-LSA in the United States. ASTM LSA approval was recently granted, with the airplane’s first appearance stateside in September. An electric version, using a Siemens SP55D-driven propulsion system, made its first public flight in June 2019—demonstrating how LSAs often stand at the forefront of advancing technology. The F2 offers a slightly larger cabin than others, good for pilots who discount the category because of size restrictions. Retail price in the US for the Rotax version: $205,000.
However, the first mover on the electric-powered front goes to the Pipistrel Alpha Electro, a version of the Alpha Trainer LSA approved for flight training in the US. The two-seat trainer in the Electro version—powered by the Pipistrel PEM 60MVLC water-cooled engine—features a 1,000 fpm climb rate and endurance of one hour plus VFR reserves. The Electro is optimized for traffic pattern operations—up to 13 percent of the propulsion system’s energy is recouped on each descent to final—while the standard Alpha Trainer’s 80 hp Rotax engine offers fuel consumption of about 2.5 gph in normal training operations. Base price for the Trainer is about $92,000 (€83,100) and for the Electro is about $138,000 (€125,000), at press time.
Two additional LSAs to watch for include the Montaer MC-01, with a three-door cabin, which debuted to the public at the Midwest Sport Expo in September. Its first US delivery is still to come. Also, the latest version of the Gobosh LSA, the VL3, is now offered by JMB Aircraft—for the time being, available only as a kit in the US.
Tried and Tested
The standard Pipistrel Sinus Max LSA leads a fleet of more than 1,000 models on six continents. Aarohi Pandit nearly circumnavigated the globe in this LSA in 2019—positive proof that the category can go the distance. Only the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic halted her quest. The Sinus functions as a motorglider—expanding its utility for sport pilots. With top-notch efficiency (consuming 2.6 gph on average) and a 110-knot cruise speed, its range extends to 540 nm with standard tanks. The Sinus Flex version adds interchangeable wingtips to mimic those of the Pipistrel Virus, transforming the motorglider into a real cruising machine. Standard price, modestly equipped, is roughly $115,000 (€102,500), plus delivery to the US, with a host of options to make it IFR-capable.
The Flight Design CTLSi remains a solid seller, and a 2020 version has been announced, featuring the Rotax 912iS fuel-injected engine, integrated Dynon SkyView flight deck or Garmin multifunction display options, and a two-axis autopilot. An attractive new interior and an airframe parachute come standard, rounding out an upscale package at $189,000.
The Vashon Ranger was introduced in 2018, and it has hit its stride in only two years. Powered by a 100 hp Continental O-200-D engine, the R7 comes fully equipped in two versions: the Glacier ($119,500) and the Redwood ($126,500). The base model, the Glacier, comes with a 10-inch Dynon SkyView HDX, and several exterior options. The Redwood adds another 10-inch SkyView HDX, along with more choices on paint schemes and other details.
A veteran in the S-LSA market, Tecnam, offers four light-sport models: the P92 Eaglet, and P2002 Sierra MkII aimed at the training market, the sporty Astore and the cruising P2008. The classic P2002 can now be ordered with Garmin G3X twin displays, as can the P92, Astore and P2008. All come powered by the 100 hp Rotax 912ULS engine series and boast similar maximum range mileage and top speeds—so you can choose your Tecnam based on style and price as well as function. Very Italian. Base pricing on the 2020 models: $161,898 for the P92, $187,653 for the P2002, $198,077 for the Astore and $191,174 for the P2008 (with standard avionics packages—Garmin pricing is higher).
This story appeared in the November 2020, Buyers Guide issue of Flying Magazine