Flying With Elite

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Gulfstream is hoping to send a message to its customer base during this week’s NBAA convention: the company is still investing in its G550 and 450 product lines. Gulfstream has long been rumored to be working on the next generation of aircraft in that class, but an announcement on that work is not anticipated during this week’s convention. In fact Gulfstream’s next new aircraft announcement may not be in that category; it may be an aircraft that is larger, faster and more expensive than its 650.

Gulfstream is mum on its future plans. But even if the 450/550 development work is ongoing, it will be years before it would hit market. Sales for the G550 and 450 in the interim remain strong, and Gulfstream is hoping to continue to capitalize on the market with its Elite interior option that is based on the design for the G650.

Gulfstream flew reporters to Las Vegas in a G550 fully outfitted with Elite.  The demonstrator, which already has been to Europe and Asia, was completed with the new interior in July.  Like the 650, the 550 Elite includes the Gulfstream Cabin Management system with iPod or iPhone capable controls. The controls were designed to be user-friendly with clear options to control cabin shades, lighting, environmental controls, and the LCD monitors that display Live TV, Blu-ray DVD and the Gulfstream CabinView passenger information system.

The 13-place cabin also has two powered seats with features such as massage and heat and electric lumbar support.  The cabin comes with five floor plan options with berthing for six-seven.  The cabin is equipped with 115v/60Hz universal outlets, LED reading lights, and charging docks.  And keeping in mind its function as a workplace, printers are standard.

Gulfstream was going for a modern aesthetic with more lacquer finishes, but customers have a multitude of options for veneer, stone coverings, and lacquer that could give it a more classic look.  Gulfstream also installed LED lighting throughout the cabin, with warmth/cool control functions for lighting effect.

Gulfstream certified the G550 Elite interior in March 2012 and has more than 30 in service or backlog.  A little less than 50% of the customers are selecting the option so far – which roughly adds about $2 million to the price of the aircraft – but Gulfstream may see that shift as the new demonstrator gets more exposure.  It will be on static display at Henderson Executive Airport during the convention.

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