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Input on the Astra, please?

PHX767

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There may be an Astra in our future. I know basically nothing about them except that they have 2 engines. :)

Looked at both the IAI and Gulfstream sites, not much practical info.

We are in the desert southwest, flying mostly west coast with occasional trips to TX and rare trips to the NE.

Do they have APU's, ground air conditioning, single point refueling, external lav service, etc? How's the range? Hot and high performance? Avionics? The one we are looking at is about 10 years old.

Any input would be appreciated.
 

HMR

I Live by the River.
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The Astra is a good plane. Click this link for some technical info.

From the SouthWest you'll be able to go anywhere in the lower 48, non-stop with a pretty full load of pax and luggage.

LeadSled can build one from memory using only a butterknife and scrap aluminum. He's the "go to" guy for the Astra.
 

erj-145mech

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If the Jet Commander 1121 is the "Lead Sled", and the 1124 is the "Jew Canoe", is the 1125 a "Yom Kipper Clipper"? Or is it the "Bagel Bomber"?

Another useless sunday afternoon pondering.
 

Lead Sled

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PHX767 said:
There may be an Astra in our future. I know basically nothing about them except that they have 2 engines. :)

Looked at both the IAI and Gulfstream sites, not much practical info.

We are in the desert southwest, flying mostly west coast with occasional trips to TX and rare trips to the NE.

Do they have APU's, ground air conditioning, single point refueling, external lav service, etc? How's the range? Hot and high performance? Avionics? The one we are looking at is about 10 years old.

Any input would be appreciated.
There are Astras and then there are Astras - which one are you looking at?

'Sled
 

Lead Sled

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PHX767...

This afternoon a friend asked me for essentially the same information, so I'll cut and paste from my reply to him.

“Gulfstreams” they aren’t; but as far as mid-sized jets go, they probably have more bang for the buck than anything out there. Astras come in three variants. They are known as Classics or the original Astra, the Astra SP, and the Astra SPX / Gulfstream G100. Systems wise, they are virtually identical across the board. (The Classics uses iron gyros and are heavily dependent on their AC system. The SP and later airplanes use AHARS and the AC system basically just powers the oil pressure gauges. They finally did away with the AC system on the G200 and G150.) The major differences between the three variants are AP/FD & Avionics packages and engines. Regardless, the systems are straight forward and reliable. (Once upon a time they had problems with the Slat/Flap system, but those have been resolved and if you maintain the airplane properly, it’s not an issue.)

I don’t have the exact serial number ranges in front of me, but Classics run up to about s/n 30. After that, they built about 10 Classics that had the SP’s aerodynamic mods. Around s/n 40 they started building SPs. The SPX came along in the high 70s. After Gulfstream bought the line, they essentially just changed the name to the G100. I know of no significant differences between the first SPX and the latest G100. From what you said (...it's about 10 years old...), I'm guessing that you're looking at an early SPX. If you, you're definately in for a treat.

Oh well, back to the differences between the models. The major differences between the Classic and the SP are few: The SP had gear doors that closed when the gear was extended and a shroud on the windshield wipers. The factory claimed a range increase with the SP, but that was mostly attributed to a modified climb profile. The major difference is that the Classic used an analog Collins EFIS 85 AP/FD and the SP uses a digital EFIS 86 system. There’s a major difference in the capabilites of the two systems. From a performance point of view, there’s no difference between a Classic and SP. That being said, the SP with its digital EFIS 86 is definitely worth the difference in price.

The differences between the SP and SPX/G100 are HUGE. The Classic and SP use the TFE731-3C engines @ 3,700 lbs of thrust. The SPX and G100 use the -40 engine at 4,200 lbs. The extra 1000 pounds of thrust takes the performance up an order of magnitude. The -3 powered airplanes cruise at 450 KTAS, the -40’s cruise at 470 KTAS. The -3 airplanes are happiest at FL350 through FL410. The -40 airplanes can go straight to FL410 and 430 on virtually any leg over 200 miles or so. FL450 is a usable altitude for the SPXs and G100s. They also burn less fuel on any given leg than the -3 airplanes. The SPX and G100 also have winglets which add to their “altitude” performance.

From an avionics standpoint, the SPX/G100 use the Collins Proline IV. Most SPXs and G100s come with Garrett APUs. They are rare on the Classics and SPs. As far as FMses go, you will find Classics and SPs with either the UNS1-C or GNS-Xls. The Universals are definitely the preferred box. I believe that all of the SPXs and G100s came with the UNS1-Cs.

Max gross takeoff weight is 24,650 for all of the airplanes up through the G100s. The BOW for most all Classics is in the 13,500 to 14,000 pound range. The SPs have BOWs in the 14,000 to 14,500 pound range. The SPXs and G100s are in the 14,500 to 15,000 range. All of the airplanes carry roughly 8700 pounds of fuel with standard fuel. They all have a removable “extension” tank that takes up 1/3 of the baggage compartment. With this tank installed the fuel capacity is roughly 9400 pounds.

If you’re thinking about flying an Astra over water there are a couple of things you need to consider - make sure you've got the long-range O2 system installed or you'll be carrying some portable bottles in the cabin. The rafts and survival gear also go into the cabin so you’re going to have to remove a seat or two to make room for them and in the later (heaver) airplanes, you're pretty much limited to 4 passenger seats. Like I said, the extension tank takes up about 1/3 of the baggage compartment, but with some creative packing you can make it work out. For domestic flying I never use the extension tank, so baggage is seldom an issue.

Do they have APU's, ground air conditioning, single point refueling, external lav service, etc? How's the range? Hot and high performance?
All in all, the SPX / G100 is a great compromise when it comes to real world flying. The Astras definitely don't have the biggest cabin, but it's big enough most of the time. If you fly it by the book, they will make book range figures day in and day out. With the SPX / G100, you can plan on a normal cruise between 460 and 470 KTAS and direct climb to FL410 on all but the warmest days. I use M.76 / 430 KTAS for most of my long-range oceanic flying. You've got to watch the C.G. - they tend to go out the forward end of the envelope (even with the APU installed) when you top off the tanks and put more than 5 (sometimes 6) passengers in them.

The APU is installed on a Duncan Aviation STC. Most of the newer G100s have them. Many SPXs also have them. They are installed on only a few of the Classics and SPs. Fueling in via Single point, but they have over the wing capability (actually over the fuselage.) Ground cooling is provided via bleed air either from an engine or from an APU depending upon the particular airplane. All of the airplane (except for a few of the very early serial numbers) have external lav servicing.

As far as flying them is concerned, they've got straight forward systems - there aren't too many "gotchas". They're easy to get good landings with - if you watch your speed on final. They handle crosswinds well, but (for boosted ailerons) they're a bit heavy in roll and "typical jet" in pitch. They do OK for a swept wing airplane - if you're careful, you can operate them out of 4,000' runways, but don't plan on going very far. 5,000' is, of course, better and 6,000'+ runways won't offer you too many restrictions even on the hottest of days.

I hope this helps. Let me know if you need any more information.

'Sled
 
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PHX767

it's a dry heat
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Thanks, guys!

I appreciate the link from HMR and the great info from Leadsled! :)

I'll sniff around and figure out what serial number is being considered.
 

xrated

Jeezz, What have I Done?
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Huh?
If you need more info than Lead Sled provided, you weren't paying attention. I will give a few impressions from the outside though.

Without a doubt, the Astra is a performer. In it's class, few can outperform it. I believe its only second to the Citation X in speed. One big drawback it the size of its cabin. More specifically, the cross section is very narrow. Bring the seats in towards the isle and its very difficult to walk through. I only say this because I have had the fortunate opportunity to ride on one for a 3.5 hr plus trip.

In addition, instead of hot wings, it has boots like a turbo-prop, or a slow Citation (or even an ancient Jet Commander). I've never heard of an Astra having icing issues but boots do warrent additional inspections and care. Why wouldn't IAI or Gulfstream make it a hot wing? The usuall answer is because if you used bleed air, the airplane would be significantly "underpowered".
 

Fokkerflyer

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You guys forgot one other important thing:

It's ugly

All kidding aside, I have friend who fly one and they love it and wish it was a better looking plane.
 

GVFlyer

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Fokkerflyer said:
You guys forgot one other important thing:

It's ugly

All kidding aside, I have friend who fly one and they love it and wish it was a better looking plane.

Gulfstream sorta fixed that with the G150. When they widened the cabin, it's now 5'9"W X 5'9"H, they put a G-III nose on it.

Here's a few specs for you (G100 in parens):

Normal cruise - M 0.80 (M 0.80)

Long Range Cruise - M 0.75 (M 0.75)

Mmo - M 0.85 (M 0.875)

Range at normal cruise - 2400 nm. (2550 nm)

Range at LRC - 2700 nm. (2700 nm)

T/O at MGTOW - 5830 ft. (5395 ft.)

Ldg Dist. MLW - 3450 ft. (2820 ft.)

Initial alt. - FL410 (FL410)

Max alt. - FL 450 (FL450)

Max T/O wt. - 26000 lbs (24,650 lbs.)

Engines - Honeywell TFE 731-40AR, 4420 lbs. thrust (-40R, 4250 lbs. Thrust)

DOC - $1112 hr. ($1098 hr.)

Price - $13.5 m. ($11.85 M)

GV






~
 
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Lead Sled

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xrated said:
...One big drawback it the size of its cabin...In addition, instead of hot wings, it has boots like a turbo-prop, or a slow Citation (or even an ancient Jet Commander). I've never heard of an Astra having icing issues but boots do warrent additional inspections and care. Why wouldn't IAI or Gulfstream make it a hot wing? The usuall answer is because if you used bleed air, the airplane would be significantly "underpowered".
There's the old joke that says that the only problem with the Astra is that it has 6 hours worth of fuel and 4 hours worth of cabin. :D

As far as Hawaii goes, it can be done in the Classic and SP, but you've really got to watch the winds. It's much easier in an SPX or G100. The biggest problem that guys have in getting the range out of the airplane is that they don't bother to read the book. If you want book performance you have to fly it by the book.

As far as the "boots vs. heated leading edges" go, you need to remember that heated leading edges are considered anti-icing devices and pneumatic leading edge boots are considered deicing devices. There is a big difference between the two concepts.

The problem with heated leading edge anti-ice systems is that they need heat and lots of it. The heat typically comes from an engine bleed air source. Anytime you take that much heat from an engine you also take away a significant amount of power.

For anti-ice systems to be effective you must turn them on prior to entering icing conditions, otherwise they will just melt the ice and the water will flow back to places that are protected and refreeze - not a good thing. Also, chunks of ice can come off and go through the engines (B727, DC9, MD-80, Lear, Citation, etc. Anything with rear mounted engines.)

On the Lears that I've flown, turning on the wing heat had a significant effect on the climb capability of the aircraft, something in the range of 50% if I remember correctly. The Astras and G200 that I fly have the "old fashioned" boots on the leading edges. When I first trained in the aircraft, I was very sceptical - boots on a modern jet airplane, you've got to be kidding? In the real world, they're actually pretty nice. You only use them when you need them, and they don't extract a performance penality when you do. I've got nearly 4,000 hours in Astras and G200s and they work extremely well, I think. I say that because I can count on one hand the actual number of times that I've ever had to use them in self defense, all of the other times were for amusement purposes only.

'Sled
 
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HMR

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Lead Sled said:
The biggest problem that guys have in getting the range out of the airplane is that they don't bother to read the book. If you want book performance you have to fly it by the book.
Paradigm Shift alert!:D
 

G100driver

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Astra is a great airplane from the SW. It will go anywhere provided that you have a long runway in the summer ... (hot down there).

Be careful with the POS slat/flap system. SLOW down before deploying them. The book says 250 knts, we always used 220-200 for the slats. Make sure that a QUALIFED mechanic maintains the system as well. One low mech lubing the accuators and you will be stuck the next time you land in freezing WX.

I loved flying the airplane ... just hated the noise in the cockpit.
 

Lead Sled

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G100driver said:
...It will go anywhere provided that you have a long runway in the summer... (hot down there).

Be careful with the POS slat/flap system. SLOW down before deploying them. The book says 250 knts, we always used 220-200 for the slats. Make sure that a QUALIFED mechanic maintains the system as well. One low mech lubing the accuators and you will be stuck the next time you land in freezing WX.

I loved flying the airplane ... just hated the noise in the cockpit.
If he's looking at an SPX they won't have many issues with runway length at most of the airports you'll typically see bizjets at, if they're looking at a -3 powered airplane runway length becomes more of an issue.

I take issue with your description of the slat/flap system. Yes, I've had more than my share of issues with it over the years (Over 3,500 hours experience personally and nearly 20,000 hours Astra experience in the flight department.), but that's pretty much "old news". Slow it down prior to extending the slats/flaps if you think it helps, but it actually doesn't make any difference at all. What does make all the difference in the world is proper (by the book) maintenance. One of the big issues is improper lubrication. We initially had issues with our airplane when we first got it, but as is almost always the case, the airplane hadn't had good maintenance ("If this much grease is good, that much more grease HAS to be better.") Since then we've gone over two years without any issues. That doesn't surprise me - at the place where I used to work we went nearly 10,000 flight hours (5 years) without a single incident. If you're having issues, I'd talk to your mechanics.

The noise is an issue, but easily handled with a headset. The standard 'Baker Box" audio panel has an intercom that works just fine.

'Sled
 

Makesheepnervus

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I flew serial #21 (A "classic" with -C engines and baggage tanks) for 3 years. We took it everywhere; Hawaii, Europe etc. and I have to agree with Lead sled, they do offer a lot of bang for the buck. My only gripe was the baggage, which was a bit small, especially with the tanks installed. Like any used aircraft there are good ones and bad ones, ours was unfortunately, a bad one, and it seems like we had a problem with just about every system. I later found out it had been previously used as an air ambulance and had been "ridden hard and put away wet" in my opinion. A well looked after one should serve you well, but as others have mentioned, watch out for that slat/flap system, the later model SPX's had an improved system but are still known to break.
 

HMR

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Hi Sheep!

You just reminded me of my one and only flight in your old bird. It's amazing how many things can go wrong in an 8 minute flight from LAX-BUR!:eek: :)
 

Makesheepnervus

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HMR, I didn't know you flew old "Lame Duck".
I just remembered that she grounded us 3 times out of 3 when crossing the Atlantic; once in Gander, once in Luton and once in St. Johns!
 

Lead Sled

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When the Astras first came out, the big problem was hydraulic leaks. On coast to coast legs you used to have to make a stop somewhere in "fly over country" to top off the leaky hydraulic systems...

"Please check the fuel and top off the hydraulic systems." :p

'Sled
 

capnflyright

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We fly S/N 52 which is an SP model. Trip today was FOK (Westhampton) to LAS (Las Vegas). With 55-60 kt. avg. winds we did the trip in 5:55 and had 1500 pounds reserve. Avg burn was 1325 pounds per hour. We flew it at .71 and step climbed to 430 using the optimum range chart. 3 adults and 150 pounds of bags. Could have flown longer, but LAS starts you down 200 miles out.
 

Lead Sled

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capnflyright said:
We fly S/N 52 which is an SP model. Trip today was FOK (Westhampton) to LAS (Las Vegas). With 55-60 kt. avg. winds we did the trip in 5:55 and had 1500 pounds reserve. Avg burn was 1325 pounds per hour. We flew it at .71 and step climbed to 430 using the optimum range chart. 3 adults and 150 pounds of bags. Could have flown longer, but LAS starts you down 200 miles out.
Do you have the fuselage tanks installed? We don't and just for grins, I ran the profile for our plane (a Classic) and we would have done the trip in 5:21 using .76 across the board using this mornings winds and temperatures aloft. It showed us getting into LAS with right around 1,500 pounds. If you fly the thing at much below .76 you start "pushing" at lot of air because of your AOA. .30 on the indexer will pretty much put you on the money.

'Sled
 
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