Gulfstream adds $2.5m of range to G700


The first G700 deliveries are getting closer. Rolls-Royce received FAA certification for the Pearl 700 engine which powers the G700 (and G800) last week. Gulfstream also announced that it is raising the G700’s maximum range to 7,750nm (4,353km) at Mach 0.85. The maximum speed has been raised to Mach 0.935 from Mach 0.925.

This make not sound like a lot of extra range, but if you look at Gulfstream’s aircraft portfolio it roughly costs more than $10m for another 1,000nm. A Gulfstream G500 has a list price of $49.5m and a top range of 5,300nm. You pay $59.5m for the G600s which can fly 6,600nm.

So, the 250nm it has thrown in for the G700 is worth more than $2.5m. The G700 has a list price of $79.5m.

The extra range is not a surprise (no one like a show-off, but we predicted that this would happen almost three years ago). It does mean that the G700 edges Bombardier’s Global 7500’s 7,700nm maximum range. It is hard to think of any mission where that extra 50nm of range will make a difference, but it give the Savannah manufacturer bragging rights.

The next big announcement about the G700 will be the aircraft’s certification. Pilot certification will come 10 days after this. In July, General Dynamics, Gulfstream parent, said it was hoping to deliver 19 G700s before the end of the year.

When Gulfstream launched the aircraft at NBAA BACE in October 2019 it originally hoped to deliver the aircraft in 2022. Delays at the FAA have pushed this to the end of this year. Although this is frustrating, this is not necessarily a bad thing for customers. Gulfstream has not wasted this extra time.

In the past, the first few aircraft off the production line were often heavier and suffered from snags making them less reliable. This is why savvy buyers tended to avoid the first 50 aircraft.

Modern manufacturing and design has made this less of an issue. Now – as Gulfstream did last week –  manufacturers often announce better performance. But operators say that reliability (particularly issues with interiors) can still affect early aircraft.

When Gulfstream received type certification for the G650, the four flight-test G650s had flown 2,225 hours. The five G700 test aircraft have flown more than 4,100 hours.

To be fair, the G650 had a very good entry-into-service with customers – partly because a G650 with a fitted interior had been flying for 13 months. But the G700 has been tested even more thoroughly.

As well as the test aircraft, Gulfstream has also worked two outfitted production-test aircraft hard.

These aircraft have been used on world demo tours flying 246,000 nm and setting more than 45 speed records. Mark Burns, Gulfstream’s president, and Scott Neal, senior vice president worldwide sales, have been on many of these flights. They have personally tested the cabin for their customers.

This week Gulfstream also announced that it has lowered the G700’s cabin altitude to 2,840ft (866m) when the aircraft is flying at 41,000ft (12,497m). It says this is the lowest for all business aircraft.

“You can definitely feel the difference, not just with the cabin altitude but with the noise, 100% fresh air and the 20 windows,” Burns told CJI earlier this year.

It is worth remembering that he is comparing flying in a G700 to the G650 – with a cabin altitude of 4,100ft – and not commercial airliners. Airbus’ A350 has a cabin altitude of 5,500ft mid-flight. This is a big improvement in older aluminium tube commercial aircraft that typically have a cabin altitude of around 8,000ft.

“It really does make a difference when you arrive,” said Neal. “I have spent a lot of time on the G700 and you really can feel it when you arrive.”

The delays with certification are frustrating for both manufacturers and customers waiting for aircraft. But it means that Burns and Neal have checked the aircraft for them. And they have thrown in at least $2.5m of extra range for free.

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