Travel time savings is the prime justification for operating a business aircraft. Each new Gulfstream model, starting with the transcontinental GII in 1967, has been at the head of its speed and range class when introduced. That was true for the GIII in 1980, GIV in 1987 and GV in 1997.

Being able to cruise at Mach 0.80 may have been the benchmark in the 20th century, but it seems slow by 21st century standards. Even long-haul airliners now can cruise at Mach 0.85. Bombardier indeed routinely quotes Mach 0.82 to 0.85 as the normal cruise speed for its current production Global series business jets.

The G650 now sets a new standard with its Mach 0.90 high-speed cruise and 6,000-nm range. Slow down to Mach 0.85 and it leads the ultra-long-range class with 7,000-nm range. Assuming standard day conditions, the aircraft can depart a 4,000-ft. runway and fly eight passengers 4,000 nm in just over 8 hr.

The aircraft also tops the class with the highest pressurization, largest windows and lowest sound levels. The accompanying BCA Comparison Profile, however, pro–vides a somewhat skewed picture of the aircraft's overall capabilities primarily because of the inclusion of the Boeing BBJ1 and Airbus ACJ319. Having a large maximum payload capacity, for instance, is important if you're hauling large groups of affiliated travelers, such as sports teams or heads of state with full entourage. Most competitors also can carry more payload with max fuel than the G650 and their maximum payload to MTOW ratio is higher, again biased by the inclusion of the Boeing and Airbus transports.

The number of people who can be accommodated in full-flat berths with full fuel may be a more useful measure of utility in a long-range business aircraft. On overnight missions, the G650 and most purpose-built business jets can sleep six. Converted airliners typically sleep no more than 10 in full-flat berths.

Speed, range and fuel efficiency are the G650's strong suit, as shown by the Comparison Profile. Among purpose-built business jets, the G650 has the best fuel efficiency while cruising at Mach 0.85. If those same competitors slow down to their best long-range cruise speed, most are somewhat more fuel thrifty.

But what price is time? Cruising at Mach 0.85 instead of Mach 0.80 only saves 45 min. on a 6,000-nm trip. Speed up to Mach 0.90 and the travel time is shortened by one and one-half hours. On 7,000-nm trips, the time savings become more significant. The G650 can fly those trips nonstop in 14 hr., 42 min. All the competitors have to make a fuel stop, adding as much as an hour to travel time.

So, for now, the G650 is off to a healthy lead in the ultra-long-range business aircraft class. But Bombardier's Global 7000, promising 7,300-nm range at Mach 0.85, is due to arrive in 2016. The Montreal planemaker's 7,900-nm range Global 8000 will enter service just one year later. Longer term, Dassault could challenge the G650 with a growth version of its upcoming SMS.

In Savannah, though, no one is losing sleep over these potential airplane threats. The G650 is here and it's delivering on its promises. It's up to the competition to prove their claims, officials say. And Gulfstream already is studying its next generation of top-line business aircraft because its engineers believe you earn no points for finishing in second place. BCA

To watch our video pilot report of the Gulfstream G650, tap here in the digital edition of BCA, or go to AviationWeek.com/video

Gulfstream G650 Performance

These graphs are designed to illustrate the performance of the Gulfstream G650 under a variety of range, payload, speed and density altitude conditions. Gulfstream's sales engineers provided the data for all three charts, but estimated per–formance assumes ideal climb, cruise and descent profiles; direct routing; no ATC restrictions; and standard day conditions with no wind, among other factors that can alter actual aircraft performance. Keeping this mind, do not use these data for flight planning purposes.

Gulfstream G650 Specifications
BCA Equipped Price $65,000,000
Characteristics
Wing Loading 77.6
Power Loading 2.95
Noise (EPNdB) 89.8/77.5/88.3
Seating
2+13/19
Dimensions (ft./m)
External See three-view
Internal
Length 53.6/16.3
Height 6.3/1.9
Width (Maximum) 8.5/2.6
Width (Floor) 7.0/2.1
Thrust
Engine 2 RR BR700-725A1-12
Output/Flat Rating OAT°C 16,900 lb. ea./ ISA+15C
TBO 10,000 hr.
Weights (lb./kg)
Max Ramp 100,000/45,360
Max Takeoff 99,600/45,178
Max Landing 83,500/37,875
Zero Fuel 60,500/27,443c
BOW 54,342/24,649
Max Payload 6,158/2,793
Useful Load 45,658/20,710
Executive Payload 2,000/907
Max Fuel 44,200/20,049
Payload With Max Fuel 1,458/661
Fuel With Max Payload 39,500/17,917
Fuel With Executive Payload 43,658/19,803
Limits
Mmo 0.925
FL/Vmo FL 350/340
PSI 10.7
Climb
Time to FL 370 NA
FAR Part 25 OEI Rate (fpm/mpm) 1,511/461
FAR Part 25 OEI Gradient (ft./nm) 621/102
Ceilings (ft./m)
Certificated 51,000/15,545
All-Engine Service 43,000/13,107
Engine-Out Service NA/NA
Sea Level Cabin 31,800/9,693
Certification
FAR/EASA Part 25, 2012