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With a waiting list of around three years and pre-owned G650s actually trading for higher prices than brand new models, it’s the hard to think of a hotter private jet right now than the Gulfstream G650 (except, perhaps the G650ER). Simply put, no aircraft allows you to fly as fast or as far in such comfort.
It’s not hard to see why one US charter operator describes Gulfstream as the Rolls-Royce of business aviation and it will take something special from the other business jet manufacturers to challenge its dominance in the large-cabin market.
Everything about the Gulfstream G650 feels premium – not least the $64.5 million price tag. With the Gulfstream G650 representing ultimate wealth – as a result of some serious media buzz – it’s clear that some private jet buyers will settle for nothing less than the Gulfstream G650. But if you’re looking to get more for your money, you might find that the likes of Dassault’s Falcon 7X or Bombardier’s Global 6000 offer you all of the capabilities that you crave but at a lower price point.
The G650 has also become the preferred aircraft for chancers over the world. It not unusual to see undelivered G650 being advertised, but few of these are really for sale.
Unveiled just before financial market went into crisis, Gulfstream’s G650 was the bestselling business jet launch ever. The executive twin-jet can fly faster and further than any aircraft in its weight class.
Gulfstream official launched the G650 in March 2008, but it started quietly working on the aircraft for three years prior to its launch date. After much speculation over the identity of the launch customer the first production model (N711SW) was delivered in December 2012 to Steve Wynn, the plastic-faced American business magnate whose name is literally emblazoned across the Las Vegas skyline.
As business jet values across the board have tumbled since the collapse of the Lehman brothers in September 2008, the Gulfstream G650 alone has held its value thanks to the limited supply.
“The Gulfstream G650 has been much discussed and sought after in a time when the rest of the general aviation market has floundered,” says René Banglesdorf, CEO of Charlie Bravo Aviation. “Sleek lines, well-crafted interior and strong ramp appeal incite the desire to seal the door and see how long and fast she really can fly. Maybe that’s why the waiting list to buy one is twice as long as anything else on the market.”
The Gulfstream G650 is well liked amongst aircraft brokers, having walked Corporate Jet Investor’s ‘Aircraft Of The Year’ award in 2014, and it just as popular amongst the business and media elite, with some of the better known owners including Starbucks (N211HS), Dyson (G-ULFS), Peter Jackson (ZK-KFB) and Nike’s Phil Knight (N1KE).
With a maximum operating speed of Mach 0.925 (611 mph), Gulfstream claims the G650 is the fastest private jet on the market (although Cessna is planning to beat this with the Citation X). It can climb up to 51,000 ft, which is considerably higher than the majority of commercial air traffic high, allowing you to fly over bad weather and turbulence, but the cabin pressure is low enough that, in theory, passengers should feel less jet lagged after flying on a Gulfstream G650.
The Gulfstream G650 has a maximum range of 7,000 nm (12,964 km), meaning it can non-stop fly between cities such as London and Buenos Aires, and New York and Dubai.
It has a maximum take-off weight of 99,600 lb (45,178 kg) and Gulfstream fitted the aircraft with two Rolls Royce BF 725 A1-12 turbofan engines, each powering 16,900 lb of thrust.
The passenger cabin of the Gulfstream 650 is larger than the older Gulfstream 550, measuring 47 ft long, 6.5 ft high and 8.5 ft wide. This translates to eight people flying in great luxury or 18 passengers in a high-density configuration.
Gulfstream jets are easy to spot on the runway thanks to their large oval windows. The 16 windows on the G650 are even larger than normal Gulfstream ones, offering passengers stunning panoramic views from up in the sky.
Inside the cabin, the G650 comes fitted with Gulfstream Cabin Management System (GCMS) as standard. The GCMS app allows passengers to control the temperature, monitors and lights inside the cabin from their own smartphone. Even the onboard refrigerator has its own IP address, which automatically lets airport staff at the aircraft’s destination know when it is running low on supplies.
The harsh reality of owning a business jet is that they are assets that depreciate at an eye-watering rate. However, the demand for the Gulfstream G650 is so high that several owners – including Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone – have re-sold their aircraft at profit to eager buyers who would prefer to pay above the list price in order to get their hands on a G650 immediately rather than waiting three years for a factory-fresh aircraft out of the Gulfstream plan in Savannah, Georgia.
This doesn’t mean that you can buy a Gulfstream G650 purely with the intention of flipping it. Gulfstream gets its aircraft buyers to sign an anti-speculation clause designed to discourage them from ordering aircraft that they do not wish to own, but the company told Corporate Jet Investor that it was “happy” for the G650 owners that have been able to turn a profit.
“There are some customers who have been able to sell their aircraft and actually command a premium price for it,” said Steve Cass, vice president of marketing. “That’s terrific, we’re happy for them. It’s really not impacting our sales efforts.”
The G650’s thunder was stolen somewhat by the surprise launch of the Gulfstream G650ER at EBACE 2014, which can fly an extra 500 nm, making it possible to fly non-stop from Los Angeles to Melbourne in under 15 hours and Hong Kong to New York in around 14 hours. However, owners of the original G650 can upgrade to the G650ER through a retrofit option that takes a week to complete and costs around $2 million.
If you don’t feel like splashing out $64.5 million price, it is possible to charter a Gulfstream G650 for just over $10,000 per hour according to PrivateFly, an online charter broker. Charter operators with G650s in their fleet include ExecuJet, GainJet, Priester and Vertis.
Range: 6,904 mi/11,112 km/7,000 nm
Maximum speed: 611 mph/982 kmph/mach 0.925
Maximum take-off weight: 99,600 lb (45,178 kg)
Typical passengers: 8-18
Typical crew: 4
Competitor aircraft: Bombardier Global 5000 / Bombardier Global 6000 / Dassault Falcon 7X / Gulfstream G550
List price for a new Gulfstream G650: $64.5 million
Price range for a pre-owned Gulfstream G650: $62-72 million
First delivery: 2012
Next slots: 3-4 years
World fleet: 101