Gulfstream Unveils Wide-cabin G650

 - March 13, 2008, 3:22 AM

Ending protracted speculation about how it would address the aging fuselage cross section of its large-cabin business jets, Gulfstream Aerospace this morning unveiled the G650, which will topple (but initially not replace) the G550 from its perch as the top Gulfstream business jet when it enters service in the first half of 2012.

Compared with its predecessor, the G650 will have a longer, three-inches-taller and 14-inches-wider cabin offering 28 percent more volume and a lower cabin altitude (4,850 feet at the FL510 ceiling), a larger baggage compartment, a larger main entry door and 16-percent-larger cabin windows that dwarf the already impressive portholes that have distinguished Gulfstreams ever since the GI turboprop. The G650 will ride on new wings, swept six degrees more than the G550’s. In the cockpit there will be PlaneView II avionics and fly-by-wire flight controls. New Rolls-Royce BR725 engines will propel the 99,600-pound mtow jet, which will have a bfl of less than 6,000 feet at mtow and 3,000-foot landing distance at mlw.

Contrary to much pre-launch speculation, the new Gulfstream retains the metal primary construction of its forebears, although metal bonding will be used in place of rivets in the fuselage. Composites will play the secondary role they have already played in the G500/550.

Performance targets include 7,000 nm range at Mach 0.85 and 5,000 nm at Mach 0.90. Top speed of Mach 0.925 will displace, by 3.31 knots, the Mach 0.92 Cessna Citation X from its title of world’s fastest civil aircraft. With the G650, Gulfstream intends to regain its title as “biggest, farthest, fastest” among dedicated business jets (as opposed to converted airliners). The company has already committed to the project without launch customers and will start taking orders for the upper-$50 million (2012 $) jet 30 days from today.

Gulfstream has worked hard to distance the G650 from the “tubular-er” feel that attended each stretch of the original cross section. The new cross section has four radii, with a flattened lower portion to provide more room inside while minimizing wetted area.

Underscoring the clean-sheet origins of this project, the G650 will be certified under an all-new type certificate. The last time Gulfstream (then Grumman) tackled an all-new certification program was for the GII; every Gulfstream large-cabin jet since, through the G550, has been certified on the basis of the GII. Gulfstream expects to fly the G650 in the second half of next year and achieve FAA/EASA certification in 2011.