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Best of the Best 2008: Recently Delivered Aircraft

Mary Grady

The Dassault Falcon 7X (201.?440.6700, www.dassaultfalcon.com) flies faster, farther, and higher than any of Dassault’s earlier Falcon models. With an impressive range of 6,850 miles, the 7X can travel nonstop between business hubs and most continents. A quiet, wide-body cabin with 28 windows provides room for as many as 12 passengers.

The 7X also features Dassault’s distinctive three-engine design and a new configuration—long and tapered for greater efficiency. Pratt & Whitney turbines deliver a cruise speed of 0.8 Mach. Side-stick controllers replace the standard control yokes in the cockpit, opening up the view of the instrument panel. Dassault puts its experience building fighter jets to good use with a digital flight-control system that automatically dampens turbulence for a smooth flight. The 7X lists for $42.3 million.

The Quest Kodiak (208.263.1111, www.questaircraft.com), a beefy, single-engine turboprop designed to be both capable and unbreakable, typically appeals to that special breed of aircraft owner who wants a Hummer that flies.

Quest is a small airplane manufacturer based in Sandpoint, Idaho. As a business, its mission is unique in the aircraft industry: to design a rugged, utilitarian plane that humanitarian groups can use to provide aid in the remotest regions of the world—places where airports are scarce and runways are short. Quest’s offering toward this noble goal is the Kodiak. The plane’s tall landing gear provides extra clearance to protect the big propeller from stray rocks and potholes during landings off-road or on unpaved airstrips. The airframe design makes it easy to remove the wheels and switch to floats for water operations.

For additional cargo space, seats for eight fold and stow. The robust Pratt & Whitney PT6 turbine engine provides abundant power, and the rugged aluminum fuselage is easy to maintain and repair. Even with a ton and a half of load on board, the Kodiak can take off in fewer than 700 feet.

The Kodiak comes in an adventure model, with a durable interior that will stand up to fishing, hunting, and camping trips, and in a luxury edition with a cabin appointed for executive comfort. The company says that for every nine airplanes it sells to private customers, it can offer one at a discount to a humanitarian group. Prices start at $1.45 million.

The Cessna Citation Mustang (316.?517.6056, www.mustang.cessna.com) is the latest—and smallest—member of the Citation family. With the Mustang, Cessna is targeting the owner-pilot who is ready to move up from piston to jet power yet still fly solo. A fully computerized cockpit, featuring Garmin’s G1000 integrated avionics system, eases the workload for single-pilot operations.

At a top speed of nearly 400 mph and with a range of more than 1,300 miles, the Mustang can quickly traverse half a continent. Powered by two Pratt & Whitney turbines, the Mustang climbs as high as 41,000 feet to get above the weather and maximize fuel efficiency. Short runways are not a problem—one of the first buyers was a ski-resort owner who flies the Mustang into remote airports to reach the best ski runs around the world.

The cabin provides plenty of elbow room and comfort for four passengers, who will also enjoy panoramic windows that provide extra light. Two large exterior compartments supply ample storage for luggage, golf clubs, and skis. The Mustang is priced at $2.7 million.

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