Fairchild Dornier’s 328JET
Granted, it’s relatively slow for a jet and has limited range. But the 328JET is also a modern, fuel-efficient aircraft with a roomy cabin that climbs quickly and can land on short runways. Plus, it’s priced about equal to-or in some cases even less than-what you’d pay for a new turboprop. if it fits your typical missions, it’s a model you really ought to consider.
The 328JET (Model 328-300/310) poses a unique value: a modern, fuel-efficient aircraft with a large Gulfstream IV-sized cabin for a price equal to or in some cases less than what you’d pay for a new turboprop. You can find fully refurbished, ready-to-fly 328s for less than $6 million. Configured for airlines, the aircraft can seat 33; in executive commuter or charter configuration, typically 19; and in executive VIP cabin layouts, eight to 14.
The 328 climbs fast (3,690 feet per minute) and has great short-field performance. That said, it’s not perfect. The aircraft was designed as a turboprop and morphed into a commuter jet, so it’s slow-400 knots, only slightly faster than a very light jet-and has a range with maximum payload of less than 1,000 nautical miles (though four passengers and extended-range tanks boost that to 2,059). The Pratt & Whitney Canada engines had some early issues with leaky seals that truncated overhaul intervals, although most of them have been fixed.
In either commuter or executive VIP configuration, the 328 cabin is a standout. It is 85.5 inches wide, 72 inches tall and 34 feet long. The baggage hold is a massive 275 cubic feet. There is ample room for a large galley in the forward cabin and the aft lavatory is capacious. There is more than enough room for installation of all manner of entertainment systems and forward and aft closets, as well as couches and large, overstuffed and fully reclining single executive passenger seats. Cabin noise is exacerbated by the twin Pratt & Whitney engines hanging from pylons off the high wings and proximate to the cabin windows, and the belly-mounted landing gear. Let’s just say that when the gear doors open, you’ll know it. Acoustic blankets placed behind the cabin panels add weight but can ameliorate some, but not all, of these excess decibels during takeoff and landing.
Most operators find that the large cabin, good operating economics and low acquisition cost more than compensate for the 328’s shortcomings and make it one of the best bargains in the sky. If your typical flights are 1,000 to 1,600 (depending on the number of passengers) miles and you want a really comfortable cabin, this is one airplane you should not overlook.