Gulfstream Aerospace president Bryan Moss had hard numbers here at the EBACE show yesterday as evidence of business aviation’s improving fortunes. The Savannah, Georgia-based manufacturer plans to deliver 111 green aircraft this year and 127 next year, versus 89 last year. By some measures those are not big numbers, but to Gulfstream, which builds some of the highest value aircraft in the industry, they indicate a market in fine health.
Gulfstream’s parent company, General Dynamics, had net sales of $21.2 billion last year, and the business jet manufacturer contributed $3.4 billion of that amount (up from its $3 billion share in 2004).
The company recorded its best 12 months ever for non-fractional orders last year, logging contracts for 92 “large-cabin aircraft” (which Gulfstream classifies as G550 through G200, although the world beyond Savannah still tends to regard the G200 as a super-midsize) and 32 “mid-cabin aircraft” (G100/150).
The Gulfstream fleet has grown to 95 this year (G100/Astra, G200, GII/III/IV/V and G300/350/400/450/500/550) from the 57 (GII/III/IV/IV-SP/V) based in Europe in 2002.
Despite pre-show tongue-wagging in the industry, Moss did not take the wraps off any new aircraft such as a “G600” and remained tight-lipped about plans for any aircraft beyond the current lineup.
On a supersonic business jet, Moss pre-empted inquiring minds at a press conference yesterday by asking and answering the question himself: “Will Gulfstream build a supersonic business jet? Read my lips: No!” He did elaborate that the company is currently devoting its efforts n this field of research to two issues: rule changes that would allow supersonic flight over land and sonic-boom suppression.
Moss also announced here yesterday that there are now, four years after its introduction, 227 Gulfstreams flying with the enhanced-vision system (EVS). Further, 20 broadband multi-link (BBML) systems entered service last year, and 31 more are currently under contract. Gulfstream (Booth No. 244) has added a field service representative to provide technical support in Europe as business aviation traffic continues to grow in the region. Larry Turner, a Gulfstream employee for the past 25 years, has recently relocated from Los Angeles to Zurich, Switzerland.
Also in the realm of product support, Gulfstream will be adding parts inventory worth $4.5 million at its London Luton facility, and in the U.S. the G100 devoted to airborne product support has now logged its 1,000th mission in the three years or so that it has been flying.