If the small business jet market has new competitors like Pilatus and Honda, at the top of the category the situation is still concentrated in tradition. Dassault, Bombardier and Gulfstream continue to pursue those customers and corporations willing to invest astronomical sums on aircraft that transcend aviation standards. The reason is that a long-range business jet costs as much as many commercial aircraft.
But there seems to be no limit to them, as it became clear this week when Gulfstream unveiled the G700, its most ambitious business jet. It is a superlative aircraft: over 33 meters long (almost the same as a Boeing 737-700), space for up to 21 passengers at a top speed of Mach 0.925 and an impressive distance of 13,900 km (7,500 nautical miles).
The company’s target is obvious, Bombardier Global 7500, another giant in the segment. But Gulfstream has raised the bar by designing a fuselage with unbeatable interior space: the passenger cabin is 17.4 meters long, 2.5 meters wide and 1.9 meters high, surpassing the Bombardier jet by all dimensions.
Thanks to this, Gulfstream says the G700 can be configured with up to five different environments that can include a six-person dining room, master suite or 180-degree tilt seating for up to 10 passengers. Flying at up to 51,000 feet (15,540 meters), the jet promises a cabin altitude of 4,850 feet (1,478 meters).
Gulfstream has chosen the new Rolls-Royce Pearl 700 turbofan, with 18,250 pounds of thrust, which has such a high level of automation that it can take less than 10 minutes between departure and the aircraft taxi. With lower fuel consumption, the engine provided the longest range, but in this respect the G700 does not match the Global 7500, at least in absolute numbers.
Bombardier claims that its jet, which went into service last year, can fly 7,700 nautical miles (or 14,260 km), with eight passengers (plus four crew) and at a speed of Mach 0.85 – the Global 7500 can carry at maximum 19 passengers. The G700 does the same, however, with a smaller 360 km range in theory. To journalists attending the event, Gulfstream said its customers’ concern is to have more space rather than greater autonomy.
Still, it’s a hat-taking performance. From a map on the company’s website, you can see that a London-based plane, for example, just can’t fly nonstop to Australia, meaning nearly every major region of the world is within Gulfstream’s jet range.
Already in tests
The best news from the company at the opening of NBAA 2019 was to reveal that the G700 is already at a very advanced stage of development. One of the five prototypes is already conducting taxi trials and nearly 14,000 hours of various tests have been completed so far in preparation for the first flight, the date of which Gulfstream has not yet disclosed. But the manufacturer has confirmed that the G700 will go into service by 2022. The first customer is Qatar Airways airline that ordered an aircraft for its charter service – the American FlexJet was also announced during the event and will be the first customer in Gulfstream’s home country.
Estimated price of the new plane? No less than $ 76 million, which can rise depending on how each customer decides to finish their interior.