Super Midsized Jets, an Underutilized Class of Corporate Jets
Over the next few articles I am going to be examining each private jet class that we utilize in the charter industry. These classifications have developed over time in order to group aircraft of similar size and capability so that we are better able to find the right equipment for the flight. The traditional classifications from small to large are Light, Mid, Super midsize and Large. However, new classifications have been added in the last several years, such as the Very Light Jet category of 4 passenger air taxi style jets like the Phenom 100, and the premium, or long-range large jet, like the Global Express, capable of flying 13+ hours. Lately, a few light jets have been classified as super light jets, a confusing category as it sounds like it is going to be lighter and smaller than a light jet, but it actually includes some aircraft that have a longer range than the traditional light jet or are slightly smaller than the traditional mid. As you can see as new aircraft are developed and new technology utilized, there will be new classifications added as well. We will soon see ultra long range light jets that can fly 5 or 6 hours. Where will they be classified!
The Super Midsize group is classified by their coast to coast (US East coast to West coast) range and seating capacity of 8 to 12 passengers. The group really started with the Falcon 50, a three-engine jet, that was a little larger than the Falcon 20, and had improved range. The aircraft did not fall into the category of mid, with its intercontinental range, and it was too small to be categorized as a large. Today the Falcon 50 is still in production as the Falcon 50EX and is a great aircraft if you have more than 8 passengers, or you need to get into a short airstrip. The Falcon family is known for their performance, with a short takeoff and landing requirement, and the interior of this aircraft comes in many different configurations, some fitting as many as 11 passengers. The Falcon 50 began production in 1979, so if you are looking for a newer aircraft, pay attention to the make, as you are wanting a Falcon 50EX, but many of the older models are flying today and offering great pricing.
For many years, the 50 was the only “super mid” that was around, and it was not until the mid to late 90s that this category began to really gain members. At this time Cessna developed what would be the fastest corporate jet available and the Citation X is still a record-breaker to this day. The aircraft featured a long range, over 3000nm, very comfortable seating for 8 and as noted, the fastest speed in the industry. Cessna would also introduce the Citation Sovereign in the 2000s, an extended range, extended cabin version of the Cessna III, VI, and VII family. This is one of a variety of aircraft that sit the fence between mid and super midsize jet. Some people feel they do not have the range for or interior size for this class, but they certainly do not fit with the midsize group.
In the mid-90s Gulfstream purchased the Israeli Aviation Industries, and began to remanufacture their aircraft. Gulfstream has always been known for performance, and they made a good choice in purchasing a line of jets that were so well manufactured they seemed to be able to double any other aircraft’s range, and never break down. The Astra would become the G100, which stays in the air well after any other mid falls out of the sky, and the Galaxy would become the Gulfstream G200, Gulfstream’s super midsize jet. Gulfstream would also begin the process of renaming previously made Galaxys to their G200 moniker, in order to allow the aircraft to be able to overfly the middle eastern region. Up until this time, no Israeli made aircraft could overfly Saudi Arabia or most of the other Arab countries, causing a huge difficulty in these aircraft operating from Europe to India.
Bombardier started out making regional jets and branched into the large jet category by revamping these regional jets into corporate jet options. The CRJ was shortened but had its range extended greatly to make the popular Challenger series. Then the cabin was again extended, and range improved to develop the Global Express line of premium larges. The next logical step was to begin bridging the gap between these large jets, and the Lear Jet line that they acquired from the Gates company. The product of this decision was the Bombardier Challenger 300. The aircraft looks very similar in body style to the Challenger 600 series, with a slightly more slender look, and the interior looks and feels very much like its big brothers. It is one of the only super-midsize jets to feature a “flatbed” cabin, one in which there is no lowered middle aisle. I think this makes the 300 the best option for travelers that have either young children or elderly passengers. If you have either of these, you can understand why!
One of the newest additions to the category is the Embrear Legacy 600. The Brazilian airliner manufacturer took a cue from Bombardier and began to convert their popular ERJ135 and 145s into corporate jets and presented an aircraft that was just short of a Gulfstream IV in size, with a midsize jet range and operating cost, and an airliners luggage capacity! Featuring a flatbed cabin like the Challenger 300, the aircraft often seats 12 or 13 and has the long cabin with luxurious appointments that the GIV offers. It is a great aircraft for Gulfstream lovers that want a slightly lower price.
I have touched on the most popular aircraft in this category, but there are a few more worth mentioning. The Hawker 1000 is a rare aircraft, of which only 52 were made. Most of these were utilized by NetJets, and are known for having been flown very hard. These days they are used by several floating fleet operators and offer good one-way pricing. The Hawker 4000 replaced the 1000 but with a slightly larger cabin, it borders on large jet status. The Falcon 2000 with its limited range, is also a large jet that slips down into the Super midsize class, as well as the G350, which replaced the GIII and is for all practical purposes a large jet as well.
Many of the aircraft in the Super Mid categories are very popular and are seeing good usage. They are mostly newer aircraft, which always adds to their popularity, and most offer a good cabin seating capacity. However, I do feel that this class is under-utilized. The group offers so much in range and luxury, while still offering a fantastic range and price. They are popular for coast to coast flights in the US, and inter European flights. But many of them have an intercontinental range if a fuel stop is acceptable. On shorter flights when a midsize jet would work, they offer extra breathing room for just a slight upgrade. They bridge a much-needed gap between the mid and large categories.