SSBJ at least a decade away, Gulfstream says

 - December 13, 2006, 1:19 PM

Gulfstream Aerospace President Bryan Moss made his company’s position on supersonic business jets clear at a Paris press conference yesterday when he said, “If you want to get me fired, just report that Gulfstream is developing a supersonic business jet.”

The Savannah, Georgia-based OEM does manufacture a wide range of business jets but maintains that regulatory approval of supersonic flight over land is a primary market requirement for a supersonic business jet, making sonic-boom suppression a key technology. Moss said development of a supersonic civil aircraft therefore requires a two-step program. First, a demonstrator aircraft must show that boom- suppression technology works well enough to affect a regulatory change that permits supersonic flight over land. Only then does it make sense to launch a program for a production aircraft.

Considerable investment is required for both steps, with no guarantee that a demonstrator will be successful, and even if it is, that the regulations will be changed. Moss said Gulfstream continues to investigate quiet supersonic aircraft technology, but he believes that entry into service of an SSBJ is at least a decade away.

Meanwhile, Gulfstream is concentrating on making continual improvements to its line of subsonic business jets, as well as bolstering its global support network. The company’s most high-profile program this year is its G150, a derivative of the G100 (the former Astra SPX, which is still built by Israel Aircraft Industries). Moss said the goals for the G150 program were to widen its cabin, improve the aerodynamics of its nose section and upgrade its avionics, while maintaining the performance of the G100.

The G150 made its first flight on May 3 and since then has completed all company flight tests. Pres Henne, senior vice president of programs, engineering and test at Gulfstream, elaborated: “The flight envelope has been completely opened–reaching a maximum altitude of 45,000 feet and a maximum airspeed of 0.882 Mach. Maximum endurance has already exceeded five hours.”