Secrets in Savannah: Gulfstream’s G500 and G600 launch

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The Gulfstream G500 and G600 flying in formation.

One thing that you cannot fault Gulfstream for is the ability of its employees to keep a secret.

Everyone has known that Gulfstream has been working on a new aircraft for several years (the cars outside the factory were a good guide) and most people had a pretty good guess at the larger cabin, Pratt & Whitney engines and range. But it has been extremely good at keeping the details and the level of its development secret.

Different OEMs have different strategies for launching (which is really all about pre-selling) aircraft. Some like to launch, what are often called, paper or theoretical aircraft early. Others like Gulfstream and Dassault prefer to have actually started cutting metal or moulding carbon fibre before they announce the new model.

However, no one expected a G500 to taxi out under its own power during the launch.

Gulfstream says that the G500 will fly for the first time in 2015, with the first G600 flying less than 18 months later. The first customer G500 should be delivered in 2018 and the first G600 in 2019. This sounds ambitious but Gulfstream has a good record when it comes to meeting planned delivery dates (as the chart below shows). It is also riding high on the successful introduction of both the G650 and G280.

Although it would be hard to top the success of the G650, which is a game changer aircraft that created its own market, you should not underestimate the effort and investment going into the G500 and G600 programmes. Gulfstream has built two new facilities in Savannah to build the aircraft and launching any new model is always a big risk for an OEM.

Whilst Gulfstream does not like to disappoint customers with less performance, the launch of the G650ER has also shown that it is happy to surprise them as well. The launch and simultaneous roll-out of the G500 was a fantastic surprise and there will no doubt be others to come.

Chart shows how many months difference between the forecast first delivery at launch and the real first delivery.

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