Faster. Higher. Stronger. Longer. The top business jets


Gulfstream G650 flying

The Gulfstream G650 milestone flight from LA to Melbourne has redefined ultra-long-range business jets.
Gulfstream G650 flying

Faster. Higher. Stronger. Longer. The motto of the Olympics also applies to the top end of the business jet market.

This week, a Gulfstream G650 appears to have flown between Los Angeles and Melbourne making it probably the first time a business jet (rather than an airliner) has flown between the US and Australia non-stop.

At the moment, the G650 is the only business jet capable of such a long flight (in fact, it is getting pretty close to its maximum range), but Bombardier says its Global 8000 will be able to carry eight passengers 7,900 nautical miles – some 900 nautical miles further than the G650.

Buyers – particularly large companies – like the idea of being able to fly a long way. This is why Japanese companies are operating six of the first 57 G650s to be delivered. Japan’s total civil operated business jet fleet is less than 50 aircraft.

However, many long-range aircraft end up flying well below their maximum range. One reason for this is that flying first class on a major airline is a pleasant way to travel (this is what others who sit up front have told me). Both Qantas and Delta offer 15 hour direct flights from Los Angeles to Melbourne for example. The flight times are not as flexible as with your own jet, but it is cheaper.

European data from WINGX, the business aviation information company, shows that in 2013 47 per cent of all ultra-long range aircraft flights in Europe took less than 1.5 hours.

The same was true for heavy jets. Some 75 per cent of all European heavy jet flights are for less than three hours. In fact heavy jets actually flew double the number of sub 1.5 hour trips than very light jets. The European data may be affected by Russian owners and charterers (who anecdotally like large cabin aircraft), but the figures are no doubt similar in China.

Actually let’s ignore this data completely. Where is the excitement in: Shorter. Lower. Slower?

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