NBAA Convention News

Gulfstream adds a jet and refreshes it line

 - June 30, 2008, 6:19 AM

Gulfstream Aerospace is developing a derivative midsize business jet based on the former Astra SPX and–in a Herculean effort to transform its product line in the minds of customers, suppliers and company personnel alike–is revising the nomenclature, options and mission profiles of its current business jet offerings, the company revealed at the Marriott World Center Hotel on Sunday night and further elaborated at an NBAA Convention press conference yesterday.

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 Savannah, Ga. airframer is working on the G150, a G100 derivative with a wider fuselage and more aerodynamic nose (see box on page 125). Meanwhile, it is dropping the Roman-numeral suffixes from its familiar homegrown business jets, giving them also “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, and 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 Mk611-8 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 versus $32.25 million for the G400), the G300 could be called the G400 “Lite.”

Conversely, the G400 has fewer options (because most of those offered for the G300 are already included as standard equipment–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 versus 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 NBAA Convention News. “This,” he said, pointing to the drawing of the G300, “is the new GIII.”

The G300 and G400 share the same warranty protection on structural parts and labor (15,000 hr and 15 years), production components 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 MedAir 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 really is 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 (nee 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 of 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 0.8 M with eight passengers, while by virtue of lower fuel capacity, the G500 will have a max range of 5,800 nm (0.8 M, eight pax). Like the G300 and G400, other key distinctions between the G500 and G550 are in weights, takeoff distance, options and support packages.