Gulfstream G280: Setting The standard For Super-Midsize

Credit: Gulfstream

For $12 million-14.5 million, you can buy a pre-owned G280 that can fly four passengers 3,600 nm in the largest and quietest cabin in its class. In keeping with large-cabin Gulfstreams of its vintage, it typically cruises at Mach 0.80-0.82. It also delivers better fuel economy than any direct competitor.

The G280’s outward appearance indicates that it’s related to the G200/Galaxy/Astra IV family, but it shares little in common other than its basic fuselage and a few systems. It has a scaled down G550 wing, best-in-class Honeywell HTF 7000-series engines, a proper Gulfstream T-tail, trimmable horizontal stab and hybrid flight control system. Autothrottles and autobrakes are standard. Options include HUD with infrared EVS camera, SVS PFDs, dual Honeywell Laseref VI IRSes, GoGo Biz and Inmarsat Swift Broadband connectivity. Later serial numbers are available with Viasat KA-band satcom.

Removing the G200’s fuselage fuel tank made room in G280 to stretch the main cabin seating area by 8 in., widen the aft lavatory significantly and enlarge the aft baggage bay to 120 cu ft. Without that tank, the G280 provides full-time access to the baggage compartment through a door in the aft lavatory. The aircraft has a dropped aisle that increases overall cabin height in the center and widens available floor width. While the G280 is the only super-midsize aircraft to have a dropped aisle, operators say their passengers don’t object to it.

The cabin has four more windows than the G200, now totaling 19 transparencies. There are four typical, two-zone factory floor plans, all of which feature a forward, four-seat club section. The aft cabin may be configured as a second four-seat club, a two-chair section with opposite side three-place divan, four-chair conference grouping with opposite side divan or four-chair conference grouping flanked by two lean-width facing chairs. Maximum seating capacity is limited to 10 passengers due to emergency exit access requirements. All models feature a high-capacity vacuum toilet and hot and cold fresh water systems. 

But typical tanks-full payload is only 800-950 lb. With all options, tanks-full payload can drop to 600 -750 lb. So, if you fill all 10 seats, plan capping max range at 2,700-2,800 nm.

Runway performance is a strong suit. Typical 2-hr. trips require only 3,100 ft. of runway, assuming standard day conditions. Departing at MTOW, the G280 needs 4,750 ft. of pavement in ISA sea-level conditions. Flying out of BCA’s 5,000-ft. elevation, ISA+20C airport, it needs 7,320 ft. of runway. It’s approved for London City operations, but it’s slightly weight limited on takeoff due to noise-abatement requirements. With full tanks, it will fly from northeast U.S. coastal cities to most airports in Western Europe. Coming home, it can depart UK and Irish airports and fly to the Northeast U.S. and beyond.

Climb performance is excellent, making possible an initial cruise altitude of FL 440. First-hour fuel burn is 2,200-2,300 lb., dropping to 1,800-1,900 lb. and down as low as 1,750 lb. per hour near the end of a 7-hr. flight. Most operators say they’re comfortable flying the aircraft as far as 3,400-3,500 mi., depending weather at the destination, known ATC delays and available alternates.

They budget $2,400-2,500 for all-up hourly operating expenses, including $620/hr. for Honeywell MSP. Basic maintenance intervals are 500 hr. or 12 months, whichever first occurs. Most of those inspections require less than 7 days in the shop. The most comprehensive 500-hr. inspections can be accomplished in 12-14 days.

Aircraft dispatch reliability has been excellent and Gulfstream’s product support is second to none, operators say. However, some are concerned the firm’s recent reductions in workforce may have a negative impact on AOG support. Early aircraft suffered frequent incandescent exterior light bulb failures. Aftermarket LED replacement units solve the problem. Operators also say the galley is too small to serve 8-10 passengers on the longest missions and the microwave oven is tiny. They would also like to see a major mid-life operating system update for the PlaneView280 avionics. Some operators report excessive wear of the abradable lining of the engine intakes outside of the fan and chipping or peeling of the exterior coating of the thrust reversers. Gulfstream, they say, is addressing the nacelle issues and fixes are in the works.

Pilots love the aircraft’s sporty performance, but they say roll control forces are a little heavy at high indicated air speeds. They say they must take care not to use much wing down/top rudder technique when landing in a crosswind as the wingtips are comparatively low to the ground due to the short stance of the gear. They also remark that the short-travel, trailing link main gear is not forgiving of imperfect landing touchdown

The G280, while being impressively capable, has been outsold by Bombardier Challenger 350 by a 2:1 margin, even though the Gulfstream’s cabin volume is larger, it flies 400 nm farther and is more fuel efficient. Currently, there are about 15 of 193 G280s listed for resale, all 3-7 years old. And there are only 12 of 347 Challenger 350s for sale. Asking prices in the COVID-19 era are getting soft. So, potential buyers can afford to shop for deals. Patience and perseverance could make the G280 a best buy for bargain hunters.

Fred George

Fred is a senior editor and chief pilot with Business & Commercial Aviation and Aviation Week's chief aircraft evaluation pilot. He has flown left seat in virtually every turbine-powered business jet produced in the past three decades.


1 Comment
Why is 8% of G280s on the market for resale vs. 3% for the Challenger 350?