NBAA Convention News

Comfort and function highlight G650 cabin

 - October 18, 2010, 3:50 PM
Gulfstream president Joe Lombardo relaxes in G650’s spacious cabin.

Describing the cabin of Gulfstream's new G650, senior v-p of programs, engineering and test Pres Henne said it began with a sketch of a cup holder and a single window. "That simple drawing led to an aircraft interior where form follows function."

Gulfstream unveiled the finished cabin here at DeKalb Peachtree Airport on Sunday, installed in certification test flight aircraft S/N 6004. The new cabin will be available for viewing by invitation only and will return to the certification test program on Thursday.

Big is one way to describe the cabin. There is 6 feet 3 inches of headroom in the flat-floor environment. At 8 feet 2 inches wide and 53 feet 7 inches long, it is 14 inches wider and 2 feet longer than the G550 cabin, and the G650 has 28 percent greater cabin volume than the G550.

But cabin environment is not the only standard. Studies have shown cabin altitude to increase crew and passenger fatigue, particularly on long flights. And the G650 will be capable of carrying eight passengers and four crew 7,000 nm nonstop. With a cabin altitude of 4,850 feet at its ceiling of 51,000 feet, the G650 has the lowest cabin altitude in the industry, according to Gulfstream. And at 41,000 feet, the cabin altitude is as low as 2,800 feet.

The G650 offers 195 cu ft of baggage storage, 11 percent more than the G550.

Passengers and crew in the G650 can also breathe easier, for two reasons. First, the cabin air is not recycled but 100-percent fresh. Second, the lavatories are independently vented.

Also addressing comfort, the G650 has 16 windows in the distinctive horizontal oval shape, but 16 percent larger than those in the G550 and raised 3.4 inches for optimum viewing by seated passengers.

In addition to the natural light the windows provide, Gulfstream uses LED lighting throughout the cabin, with motion-activated lights in drawers, cabinets and closets. The up- and down-wash lighting allows for a selection of colors as well as a range of white light.

Have a Seat and Relax
In the G650's cabin, standard equipment includes two electrically articulated seats with heated back and base cushion. The seats have four-way pan tilt, back cushion massage, single-position memory pre-set and press-and-hold controls for full upright and full flat positions. Both the electric and manual seats feature electric lumbar support, press-and-hold electronic release seat tracking/swivel and full-flat berthing.

The inboard armrest has space inside for miscellaneous storage or an optional 12.1-inch, high-definition personal monitor. There is 21 inches of sitting space between the seat arms.

Customer advisory board members suggested making the divan more couch-like and "with the added benefit of one-touch berthing, this new divan is exactly what they wanted," said manager of design operations Andrew Fulford. Configured for sleep, the divan provides an 80-inch by 41-inch bed. As a divan, the back is reclined at a 104-degree angle for greater comfort.

With an emphasis on reliability and ease of maintenance, Gulfstream has introduced Cabin Essential into the G650, a design philosophy built on consideration of all aspects of cabin function–waste, water circulation, communication, lighting, power, cabin controls and entertainment. And the PlaneConnect system detects any failure and transmits reports from the aircraft to technicians on the ground. Virtually all systems in the cabin are redundant, so so they will work even after a failure until a repair can be made.

Maintenance personnel might be surprised to find that only six tools are required to remove and install the interior. According to senior v-p of operations Dennis Stuligross, "Easy installation and removal translate to reduced downtime for our operators. We understand that our customers need to have an aircraft that's ready to go when they are."

Also new in the G650 is the company's own Gulfstream Cabin Management System (GCMS) with CabinView high-definition audio/video distribution.

GCMS provides digital control of cabin systems through touch-screens, capacitive touch switches and passenger control units. Using an iPod Touch synched to a particular aircraft seat, passengers will be able to control the lighting, temperature, speakers, monitors, entertainment equipment, window shades, CabinView system and flight attendant call.

Later Gulfstream apps will allow the use of other personal communication devices as cabin control units and allow upgrades as newer devices enter use.

With GCMS, passengers will also be able to set and save preferences for a particular activity, including working, dining, relaxing and sleeping. For example, if their preferred working conditions involve a reading light, a closed window shade and a certain color temperature for indirect lighting, they will be able to save those preferences under the "work" label. Later, when they select "work" from the menu, GCMS will automatically adjust to the preset environment parameters.

"The GCMS uses a platform many people are already familiar with–the iPod Touch, which is an easy device to use," said Bob Geary, director of final phase research and development. Because each seat comes with its own passenger-control unit, passengers can create an environment ideally suited to their needs during that particular flight, he explained.

"They have total control over their environment and there's really no learning curve, especially since the system works with other personal handheld devices as well."

As for entertainment, the equipment includes a Rosen dual-slot Blu-ray DVD player and CD player, dual 128-gigabyte media servers and dual USB ports. In the cabin as standard are two 26-inch HD monitors, one in the forward bulkhead and one pop-up unit in the credenza. Optional 12.1-inch personal monitors are available for seats.

Flight attendants or onboard chefs will find the G650 galley a substantial departure from the typical galley. "You can walk up to it and it's reminiscent of the kitchen in your house," said Henne. The 10-inch touch-screen controls for the galley and cabin are "completely intuitive," from powering up or down the entire cabin to preset options. The controls were also designed for ease of use by passengers.

The galley houses a stainless-steel appliance stack with two coffee makers, a microwave, a convection oven and a refrigerator with freezer. There are also removable shelves, solid-surface countertops with a removable cutting board over the sink and two exposed windows for natural lighting.

Additional convenience space can be found in the electrically operated pocket door in the forward cabin bulkhead and in the electrically operated console tables.

Storage capacity in the free-standing credenza is another convenience multiplier. In addition to four separate storage areas, the credenza also holds a three-in-one printer/scanner/fax machine and a 26-inch monitor with electric lift.

The crew rest area in the G650 includes 80 inches of berthing and a 17-inch monitor.

Gulfstream design engineers still have some work ahead of them to refine the design and construction of the G650 cabin. "We want to validate the design in a real-world environment before we start delivering the G650 to customers," said Henne. "Toward that end, we outfitted our G650 integration test facility in Savannah with many of the aircraft's interior systems and have already begun evaluating them on the ground. But we also want to test them in the air. The interior we installed on 6004 will allow us to do that. The point is to ensure that the cabin is as reliable as possible."

This is the first time in its history that Gulfstream has installed and will test a complete interior on a flight-test aircraft.

In the G650 cabin, said Henne, "The whole is more than the sum of its parts. There is nothing like it in the air."