GIV bows, ushering in G300 and G400

 - January 7, 2008, 9:55 AM

Gulfstream rolled out its 500th and last Gulfstream IV early last month, but just as Mark Twain said, “Reports of its death are greatly exaggerated.” Although more than 3,000 Gulfstream employees, suppliers and guests gathered at the company’s facilities in Savannah, Ga., to witness N499GA (S/N 1499) being towed from the production hangar, the lineage will continue as the mid-range Gulfstream G300 and the long-range G400.

Gulfstream has already started building aircraft S/N 1500, a G400, which will be delivered to its owner later this year. Three airplanes later (S/N 1503), the first G300 will move down the line. Both aircraft were introduced at last year’s NBAA Convention in Orlando, Fla.

At the same time, the company said it was dropping the familiar Roman-numeral suffixes from all of its current and future offerings. Following designations that began when it acquired the type certificates for the former IAI/Galaxy Aerospace Astra SPX and Galaxy jets–which it rebranded the G100 and G200, respectively–Gulfstream renamed a slightly souped-up version of the GV the G500 and its under-development GV-SP the G550.

Gulfstream is also developing what will become the G150, a G100 derivative with a wider cabin and more aerodynamic nose. The G450 designation has been reserved for yet another offspring of the former GIV, for which Gulfstream signed an engine contract with Rolls-Royce more than two years ago for next-generation Tay engines.

Rolls-Royce Tays have powered all 500 copies of the GIV, which Gulfstream president Bill Boisture told the gathering was “integral to the success of this company.” Sir Ralph Robins, chairman of Rolls-Royce, recalled that the first order for the then-new Tay engine was signed on a restaurant napkin in 1986. Since then, he added, the GIV has been “the benchmark of all other executive jets.”

Until Gulfstream started selling G100s and G200s, Rolls-Royce had been the exclusive engine supplier for what is now Gulfstream since 1958, and the British company has delivered more than 2,500 Dart, Spey, Tay and BR710 engines for Gulfstream aircraft. Gulfstream took delivery of its 1,000th Tay in Derby, England, three months ago.

Honeywell Aerospace CEO Robert Johnson, who accompanied Boisture and Sir Ralph in the ceremonial trek across the tarmac and on the dais, also noted that Honeywell products have been installed on all Gulfstream aircraft, beginning with the APU on the Gulfstream I and continuing up to the avionics suites on the GIVs and GVs.

“For nearly 15 years the GIV’s forward-looking design, steadfast performance, industry-leading reliability and unparalleled comfort have made it the long-range aircraft of choice for customers around the world,” Boisture declared.

Using an average price “well below what we sell them for today,” the GIV has resulted in revenues approximating $12.5 billion for Gulfstream, according to the Gulfstream executive. “The GIV funded the development and the risk we took on the GV,” he said, adding that recent announcements concerning Gulfstream’s future “all began with this aircraft.”

“We are here today to celebrate success,” said Boisture, who also credited the late Allen Paulson and former vice president Charles Coppi for conceiving the GIV. He said that Coppi, who was unable to attend the ceremony, could arguably be called the father of the Gulfstream I, II, III, IV and V.

Design work on the GIV began in 1981 and the first iteration rolled out on Sept. 11, 1985. The first flight followed on September 19. The Gulfstream “special performance” GIV-SP was introduced in 1992, and featured increased takeoff and landing weight, which allowed for heavier payloads and more flexibility in outfitting.

Gulfstream revealed at last year’s NBAA Convention that it was renaming its entire product line to conform with the “G-hundred” designations it gave the former Astra SPX and Galaxy when it acquired the TCs for those aircraft in 2001.

While Gulfstream insists that the renumbered aircraft are “new,” the GIV-SP actually becomes both the G300 and the G400. The G300 addresses an emerging market segment, the company said, one that requires a spacious cabin with standup headroom, generous aisle space and ample comfortable seating, but which doesn’t require long-range capability.

With a maximum range of 3,600 nm, the large-cabin, mid-range aircraft can fly up to 14 passengers at Mach 0.80 nonstop from Chicago to London. It offers multiple cabin layouts and several preferred option packages.

The Gulfstream G400 is fully equipped and includes the Gulfstream five-year maintenance and training package, a standard head-up display and state-of the-art navigational equipment. The large-cabin, long-range G400 can fly up to 14 passengers 4,100 nm nonstop at speeds up to 0.88 Mach.

Boisture told Gulfstream employees and suppliers that the company is “setting out to build essentially four airplanes” in Savannah–the G300, G400, G500 and G550. “Now with the production start of two new models, we can incorporate more efficient installation processes to yield even higher quality and more reliable aircraft than ever before,” he said.

“It’s because of the GIV’s unprecedented popularity that we’ve been able to increase our product line from one airplane in 1994 to seven planes today,” Boisture added. “The new G300 and G400 are based on the GIV’s proven design and provide an even greater choice in terms of nonstop-range capability, outfitting, service and training for flight and maintenance crews.”