Gulfstream transforms product line

 - May 6, 2008, 8:45 AM

At both a large invited-guests-only event and a next-day press conference on the eve of the 2002 NBAA Convention in Orlando, Fla. last month, Gulfstream Aerospace announced a major transformation of its product line that not only revises the familiar nomenclature of its business jets, but also segments them by options and mission profiles into market niches never before directly targeted by Gulfstream. As part of the new product line, the Savannah, Ga. airframer also announced it is developing a derivative of the former Astra SPX.

Capitalizing on its 2001 acquisition of the type certificates for the former IAI/Galaxy Aerospace Astra SPX and Galaxy jets–which Gulfstream renamed the G100 and G200, respectively–the company is working on the G150, a G100 derivative with a wider fuselage and an aerodynamically cleaner nose. Meanwhile, it is dropping the Roman-numeral suffixes from its familiar homegrown business jets, also giving them “G-hundred” designations. The in-production GIV-SP, for example, will morph into two models, the G300 and G400, after the 500th GIV is built, while the in-development GV-SP will become the G550 and to a lesser degree the G500, after the 200th GV comes off the assembly line in Savannah. Gulfstream has delivered 184 green GVs to date, of which 160 are in service.

As envisioned, Gulfstream’s “new” product line will range from the midsize G100 and G150 to the large-cabin G200, G300, G400, G500 and G550, with the G450 designation reserved for the still-under-wraps GIV-X or -Next. The rebranding goes deeper than simple nomenclature changes, however. Important elements of the redefined models include fuel capacity/ range, standard and optional equipment (including avionics), completion flexibility, training, warranty, maintenance packages and price.

Technically speaking, both the G300 and G400 are GIVs, sharing the same airframe and wings, the same 13,850-lb-thrust Rolls-Royce Tay Mk 611-8 turbofan engines and the same Honeywell SPZ8400 avionics. But from the point of view of available options (a “multitude,” says Gulfstream literature), offered floor plans (only three) and price ($25.5 million vs $32.25 million for the G400), the G300 could be called the G400 “Lite.” Equipment options (except for about six standalones that have unique function or high cost) for the G300 are available as part of seven engineered packages, and won’t be sold separately.

Conversely, the G400 has only three standalone options (because most of those offered for the G300 are already included as standard equipment in three offered packages–including a head-up display, security system and local area network in the cabin), offers multiple cabin layouts as part of Gulfstream’s premium package (as well as customization) and provides greater maximum range (4,100 nm with eight passengers vs the G300’s 3,600 nm).

“There are a limited number of options available on the G400 because, frankly, we’ve put everything a customer really needs in the airplane, as we’ve defined it,” said Bill Boisture, Gulfstream Aerospace president.

Regarding the G300’s shorter range, he said, “It’s important to note that the customer can select any or all options offered for the G300 and still make this range.” In other words, you can load the G300 with its whole multitude of options because the weight-for-range tradeoff has already been made. “Customers have asked us to bring the GIII back into production because they like the market niche it fills,” Boisture told AIN. “This,” he said, pointing to the drawing of the G300, “is the new GIII.”

Besides range, the only differences in G300 and G400 specs and performance are some design weights and takeoff distance at mtow. With the G300 numbers shown first, these are: max ramp weight, 72,400 lb vs 75,000 lb; mtow, 72,000 lb vs 74,600 lb; basic operating weight, 43,000 lb vs 43,900 lb; max payload, 6,000 lb vs 5,100 lb; payload with max fuel, 2,500 lb vs 1,600 lb; max fuel, 26,900 lb vs 29,500 lb; and takeoff distance at mtow, 5,100 ft vs 5,450 ft.

Max landing weight (66,000 lb), zero fuel weight (49,000 lb), landing distance at mlw (3,190 ft), initial cruise altitude (41,000 ft), max cruise altitude (45,000 ft), normal cruise speed (0.80 M) and max operating speed (Mach 0.88) are the same for both.

The G300 and G400 share the same warranty protection on structural parts and labor (15,000 hr and 15 years), production-component parts and labor (five years) and interior (two years), and provide initial training for the same number of crew (two pilots, two mechanics and one cabin attendant). The G400 comes with five years of MedAire coverage, while the G300 has only one year. Also included in the G400’s higher price are Gulfstream’s five year/ 2,500-hr maintenance service and four-year recurrent pilot and mechanic training packages, which are not provided with the G300. Both models will enter into customer service next year, the G300 in the third quarter and the G400 in the second quarter.

The evolution of the GV/GV-SP into the G500 and G550 is similar to the GIV-SP’s progression, with a few twists. The G550 is really the GV-SP with a new name, but calling the G500 a renamed GV would be incorrect, because it too will pick up some of the improvements slated for the GV-SP. Therefore, both the G550 (née GV-SP) and G500 are separate, though very similar, derivatives of the GV-SP, which itself is a new iteration of the GV.

The principal distinguishing characteristics of the GV-SP, when compared with the GV, are Gulfstream’s PlaneView cockpit (which is based on Honeywell’s Primus Epic architecture and includes four 14-in. flat-screen monitors, a Honeywell 2020 head-up display, a cursor-control device and a Kollsman enhanced vision system); increased cabin volume (a result of the reduction in space occupied by older avionics); and a 6,750-nm range (achieved through aerodynamic efficiencies and reduced fuel burn by the airplane’s Rolls-Royce BR710 turbofans).

Although the G500 and G550 will both benefit from the improvements in cabin volume, aerodynamics and fuel burn and both will have the PlaneView avionics, only the G550 will get the HUD and EVS as standard equipment, along with a security system and cabin local area network (although these are all options on the G500). The G550 also gets the planned range of the GV-SP, 6,750 nm at Mach 0.80 with eight passengers, while by virtue of lower fuel capacity, the G500 will have a max range of 5,800 nm (Mach 0.80, eight pax). Like the G300 and G400, other key distinctions between the G500 and G550 are in weights, takeoff distance, options and support packages.

With the G500 numbers shown first, the weights and performance differences are: max ramp weight, 85,500 lb vs 91,400 lb; mtow, 85,100 lb vs 91,000 lb; basic operating weight, 47,800 lb vs 48,300 lb; max payload, 6,700 lb vs 6,200 lb; payload with max fuel, 2,500 lb vs 1,800 lb; max fuel, 35,200 lb vs 41,300 lb; and takeoff distance at mtow, 5,150 ft vs 5,910 ft. The base price of the G500 is $37.5 million; the G550 is $44.75 million.

Max landing weight (75,300 lb), zero fuel weight (54,500 lb), landing distance at mlw (2,770 ft), initial cruise altitude (41,000 ft), max cruise altitude (51,000 ft), normal cruise speed (Mach 0.85) and max operating speed (Mach 0.885) are the same for both models.

Six cabin layouts are offered for the G500, with customization not available, while the G550 has multiple layouts, as per the premium package, and customization. Like the G400, the G550 has relatively few options available, because most are included as standard equipment. Available as options are a DirecTV system, lightning sensor and FAR Part 135 compliance. Similar to the G300/G400, the “G500 has the same breadth of options as the G300,” Boisture said, while “the G550 comes fully equipped, like the G400.”

The G500 and G550 share the same warranty protection on structural parts and labor (20,000 hr and 20 years), production-component parts and labor (five years) and interior (two years) and initial training for pilots (three), mechanics (three) and cabin attendant (one). Like the G300 and G400, they differ on MedAire coverage, with the G550 providing five years and the G500 only one year. Like the G400, the G550 includes a five-year/2,500-hr maintenance service and four-year recurrent pilot and mechanic training packages, which the G500 does not have.

Both models are expected to enter customer service in the first quarter of 2004. Certification of the GV-SP is expected in the fourth quarter of this year.