By Fred Vergnères
Images : ©M.Douhaire ©Gulfstream
Few months ago, Gulfstream made a “world tour” to present its G700 to its customers. Launched in October 2019, the flagship of the Savannah-based manufacturer has all the necessary assets to compete with the current Global 7500 of Bombardier. Nevertheless, the American aircraft manufacturer has already positioned itself on the future and the future competition by announcing with surprise at the beginning of October the G800 but also the G400.
Gulfstream’s message is clear: gain as much market share as possible and cut the ground from under the feet of future competitors. The launch of two new aircraft on October 4, live from Savannah, the manufacturer’s headquarters, is indeed a strong symbol and a signal to Dassault with its Falcon 10X and Bombardier with its Challenger 3500. Gulfstream, which is accustomed to responding to the very high-end aircraft, is also attempting a foray into the super-midsize aircraft segment with the announcement of the launch of its G400.
The G700: a short final program
For the teams of engineers and tests, the years to come should be particularly intense. The G700 is expected to become the cornerstone of the company’s long-range, wide-cabin aircraft expertise in the next few months. The G700 is in fact a perfect combination of the experience acquired with the G650/650ER and the technologies developed for the G500 and G600 range, in particular the Symmetry flight deck system. The success of the latter on the market has led Gulfstream to develop this very high-end aircraft concept in which the brand excels. This concentrate of technology allows passengers to travel a distance of 7 500 nm (13 890 KM) at a cruising speed of mach 0.925. A non-stop world tour in a cabin designed to accommodate up to 13 passengers in five distinct living areas. The cabin environment has been particularly studied both from the point of view of luminosity, thanks to the 20 windows distributed along the fuselage, and the ambient atmosphere with the production of a cycle of fresh air produced at 100% and not recycled. This comfort is accompanied by a particularly effective soundproofing and a cabin pressure level the lowest of the market. Originally reported with a cabin altitude of 3,290 feet/1,003 meters when flying at 41,000 ft/12,497 m, the G700 cabin altitude at the same flight level has been improved to 2,916 ft/889 m. A reference point.
With its strengths, Gulfstream’s tour at the end of September gave the launch company, Qatar Executive, the opportunity to see the G700, which will join its fleet from 2022. As a reminder, the Doha-based operator had ordered 10 of the aircraft at the time of its launch in 2019. On this occasion, while the jet is still in the prototype stage, Gulfstream announced that it had set two new intercity speed records.
The fully outfitted G700 production test aircraft connected Savannah to Doha, a distance of 6,711 nautical miles/12,428 kilometers, at an average speed of Mach 0.88 in 13 hours and 16 minutes. The aircraft then set another city-pair record from Doha to Paris, flying 2,953 nm/5,469 km in 6 hours and 15 minutes at an average speed of Mach 0.90. The record-breaking flights also showcased Gulfstream’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions. For the Savannah to Doha flight, Gulfstream fueled the G700 with a blend of sustainable aviation fuel. Carbon offsets are being applied for both flights. A total of six prototypes will have been built for all the tests. Although the first aircraft are scheduled for delivery in the first half of 2022, the orders placed to date will not allow the future buyer to have his aircraft until 2025. This guarantees the success of this jet after the G650/650ER, 450 of this type are currently in service around the world.
For Scott Neal, the G700 is already shaping up to be a success. « With a strong order book, we are very confident that this aircraft will be a success against the competition. We have a mix of customers. Those who want to add or replace an existing aircraft to their fleet with a G700 and those who want to add a G700 to complement a G650. In the last few months we are also seeing new customers who are interested in this aircraft that allows them to cross the globe ». Beyond business aviation, the manager also indicated that with the G700 « Gulfstream will also be able to offer its aircraft on the parallel market of specialized aircraft and transformed for dedicated missions, especially in the military field. » An increasingly buoyant market.
The G800 surprise…
While the manufacturer was presenting the final version of its twin-engine jet, whose certification should not be long in coming, Gulfstream also announced, to the general surprise, two new machines. This announcement was made on October 4, one week before the NBAA, an event where the manufacturer had chosen to be absent like all aeronautical events until further notice. The presentation of these two aircraft was made from the manufacturer’s headquarters in Savannah, Georgia.
In fact, the aircraft manufacturer has taken the daring gamble of betting on a new high-end aircraft even though its G700 has not yet entered service. The G800 will be considered as the secondary flagship of the range with a range of 8,000 nm (14,816 km) or 500 nm more than its predecessor. In reality, the manufacturer should, with this new aircraft, remove the G650 from its catalog when it enters service in 2023. The G800 has the same characteristics as its predecessor, since the new jet will have 16 windows and four living areas. However, the G800 will be a brand new aircraft that will use the technological advances offered on the G700, such as the wing that will be common to both aircraft, as well as the engine produced by the Rolls-Royce Pearl 700 and the latest generation Symmetry Flight Deck avionics suite. Carrying up to 19 passengers, the G800 will offer the longest range aircraft ever produced by the Savannah-based company. And according to Mark Burns, president of Gulfstream, the aircraft manufacturer « designed the ultralong-range G800 to extend our customers’ reach to more people and places around the world. The G800 redefines what it means to go farther faster in a Gulfstream and offers even more time savings with its impressive range at high speed.”
While the launch of the Falcon 10X has undoubtedly awakened the manufacturer, which is keen to maintain its hegemony in the high-end aircraft sector, the most profitable in the industry, Gulfstream also has its sights set on the super-midsize aircraft market. The launch of the G400 in parallel with the 800, could be a response to Bombardier with its Challenger 3500 launched last September. If the manufacturer was not expected on this segment, it is nevertheless interesting to wonder about Gulfstream’s will to take the market. The G400 will be a brand new aircraft offering, according to the manufacturer « a combination of long-range, high-speed performance; cabin comfort; and environmental efficiency unrivaled in its class. » Selon Mark Burns, “The G400 was conceived and designed with direct customer input. It features revolutionary reliability and safety features we pioneered with our award-winning Symmetry Flight Deck and the largest cabin in its class, making it an outstanding addition to our next-generation fleet. The aircraft re-envisions this market segment with its maximum operational flexibility and enhanced cabin comfort.” The Gulfstream G400 will fly 4,200 nm/7,778 km at its long-range cruise speed of Mach 0.85. Three floorplans are offered, with options for seating up to nine, 11 or 12 passengers, and the G400 provides the signature Gulfstream Cabin Experience and 10 Gulfstream panoramic oval windows. The aircraft ramps up environmental performance by reducing fuel consumption, emissions and noise through its use of Gulfstream’s aerodynamic clean-wing design and advanced Pratt & Whitney PW812GA engines. Thanks to its strengths, but above all to the lack of a last generation competitor, the G400 could become the market reference when it comes into service in 2025.