Private Jet Review
Sino Swearingen SJ 30-2
The Sino Swearingen SJ 30-2 is a little-known private jet from an almost unheard-of company. It is an anomaly among light jets: it has transcontinental range and a maximum cruise speed of .83 Mach. The SJ 30-2 is very fuel efficient at high speeds, burning just over 100 gallons of fuel per hour, when the average fuel consumption for light private jets is 190 gallons per hour. The SJ 30-2 can fly nonstop between almost any two cities in the US, and even complete some intercontinental flights: Seattle to Miami, San Francisco to Honolulu, or New York to Shannon, Ireland.
The cabin is small, even for a light private jet. It is 12.6 feet long, 4.3 feet wide, and 4.7 feet high, which totals a cabin volume of 191 cubic feet. It fits five seats, and since the SJ 30-2 will generally be flown by a single pilot, an additional passenger can ride in the cockpit. Some cabin amenities include an Iridium satcom phone, power outlets, two-zone temperature control, and cup holders by each seat.
The SJ30-2 uses two Williams International FJ44-2a fanjet engines, the same class of engines used on the CitationJet series and the original SJ30. Each are flat rated to 2,300 pounds of thrust each. They are controlled partially by two Electronic Control Units ( ECTs) that are comparable to an FADEC ( Full Authority Digital Electronics Control), which automatically limits takeoff thrust, schedules climb and cruise thrust levels, and distributes fuel. Backup hydromechanical fuel control is available if the ECU fails.
One of the most surprising attributes of the SJ 30-2 is its range of 2,870 miles (2,500 nautical miles). Fortunately, its cruise speed is up to par with the uncharacteristically (for a light private jet) high range. Its maximum cruise speed is .83 Mach (486 knots), and its long range cruise speed is .78 Mach (447 knots). These cruise speeds are stunning for a light private jet. At the time of this writing, the fastest private jet available is the midsized Citation X, which can fly at .90 Mach. The closest competitor of the SJ 30-2 in the light jet class is the Hawker 400 XP, which has a maximum cruise speed of 450 knots, 36 knots slower than the SJ30-2. The average cruise speed for light private jets is 403 knots.
The SJ30-2 is very fuel efficient, burning 150 gallons of fuel per hour, 40 gallons less than the average fuel consumption for light private jets. This is surprising, considering the fact that no other light private jets come close to the SJ 30-2 in range or speed. The SJ30-2 can be even more fuel efficient when performing for optimum range, burning only 102 gallons per hour.
The best attributes of the SJ30-2: speed, range, and fuel efficiency – come out when it flies at high altitudes. Its maximum certified flight ceiling is 49,000 feet. It typically cruises at 45,000 feet. To match the high flight ceiling, the SJ30-2 has an exceptionally high pressurization rating of 12 psi, meaning that it can maintain a sea level cabin at 41,000 feet. Private jets – including all light and ultra-long-range jets – average a cabin pressurization rating of 9 psi. The cabin of the SJ 30-2 not only holds the record among private jets for the highest pressurization differential, it holds the world record. During an FAA ultimate load pressurization test, the cabin of the SJ 30-2 was found to withstand 31.4 psi.
The fully integrated Honeywell Primus Epic CDS avionics system centers on two 8×10 flat panel liquid crystal displays. The cockpit comes equipped with the Primus 331 weather radar, the Dual Primus II radio system, and can be configured to include a lightning sensor system, TCAS 2000 (Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System), GPS, and other flight control systems. The SJ 30-2 can be operated by a single pilot.
The SJ 30-2 has best-of-class speed, range, and fuel economy, and world-record cabin pressurization differential, but doesn’t offer much of anything in the way of comfort. Although the capabilities of the SJ 30-2 far outstrip average light private jets, its tiny cabin is probably too much of a negative factor to overcome.