Gulfstream G450: Good Value In A Large Cabin
The Gulfstream G450, built from 2003 to 2017, is the last of the legacy Gulfstream jets with roots to Grumman’s original Gulfstream I turboprop. Savannah built more than 360 units during its 14-year production run before replacing it with the far more capable GVII-G500.
Typically priced at $7 million to $8 million on the resale market, the G450 is one of the least expensive, large-cabin aircraft capable of flying eight passengers over 4,200 nm at Mach 0.80 and landing with 200-nm NBAA IFR reserves. It has nearly 200-nm more range than the first- or second-generation GIV or GIV-SP aircraft due to subtle drag-reduction modifications and upgraded Rolls-Royce Tay Mk 611-8C turbofans. The G450 also has a larger capacity APU with revised intake and exhaust ducting that greatly reduces external noise.
The G450 retains the basic GIV airframe, but it incorporates the GV’s automated electrical and pressurization systems, plus it has a relocated cabin door, GV’s higher aileron servo boost and automatic anti-ice control systems, among other changes. The entire nose of the G550 (aka GV-SP) was grafted onto the airplane, thus air crews enjoy a much needed 12-in. stretch to the cockpit.
Its PlaneView flight deck, also adapted from the G550, features four large LCD displays, along with standard HUD with EVS. Numerous optional Aircraft Service Change (ASC) bulletins give G450’s PlaneView many capabilities that are standard in G500’s Symmetry system. Synthetic vision PFDs (ASC 037B), CPDLC/FANS1/A (ASC 071), Honeywell Runway Awareness and Advisory System (ASC 040A), and TCAS 7.1 (ASC 077) are among the features. ADS-B OUT requires the ASC 912B, or later, Plane–View operating system software, plus WAAS GPS (ASC 059D) and Mode S ES transponder (ASC 079B) upgrades. Operators strongly recommend G450 buyers check aircraft for the latest ASC 912C PlaneView operating system upgrade.
The airframe, systems and engines are rock-solid reliable, but cabin management system components are showing their ages, especially the half dozen, or so, encoding and decoding interface boxes that link various components to the digital backbone. Some operators are swapping out the original CMS for the higher tech and more robust Collins Venue CMS. And they’re upgrading to GoGo Biz Avance L5 air-to-ground internet systems, capable of 200-250-kb connectivity speeds. In addition to text messaging, passengers can use portable phones for Wi-Fi calling when in line of sight range of GoGo’s ground stations. Budget $200,000 for the upgrade.
The main cabin typically is divided into three sections. There is a four-seat club section up front, a four-seat conference section with a credenza or two facing chairs in the center and an aft semi- or fully private stateroom with a divan and/or other furniture. Forward and aft vacuum lavatories are standard.
The G450 is more enjoyable to fly than previous GIV models because the ailerons have higher power boost. PlaneView provides unsurpassed situational awareness. The automated systems reduce pilot workload and graphic systems synoptic keep the crew in the loop.
Gulfstream’s product support is one of operators’ favorite features. Basic maintenance intervals are 12-months or 500 hr., whichever comes first. The carbon/carbon wheel brake heat packs last 2,000 landings or more. TBO for the Tay 611-8c is 12,000 hr., but most aircraft will time out at 120 months, requiring a $1 million overhaul for each engine. Pay-per-hour Rolls-Royce Corporate Care, though, averages $400 per engine. FMS CDUs, emergency batteries, the engine fire-detection control box, the horizontal stab actuation motor and APU starter pose occasional problems for operators.
In daily operations, crews say they ballpark fuel flow at 3,000 lb./hr. on average. First hour fuel burn is 3,200 lb., decreasing 100 lb./hr. for the next 4 hr. The aircraft can comfortably fly 9.5 hr. and land with NBAA reserves. Normal cruise speed is Mach 0.80 for shorter missions, but the longest, 4,350-nm missions are flown at 0.77, depending upon aircraft weight. Gulfstream’s advertised 43,200 lb. BOW is realistic for the average equipped aircraft. Push up speed to 0.85M and range decreases to 3,300 nm.
The G450’s main competitors are Bombardier Global 5000 and Dassault Falcon 900EX, respectively having ten-inch and five-inch wider cross sections. Global 5000 essentially has the same cabin length as G450, but Falcon 900EX has a 3.8-ft. shorter cabin, thus three seating areas are more cramped. Having leading edge slats, both large-cabin competitors have better runway performance than the “hard wing” G450.
The Global 5000 can fly eight passengers 5,500 nm while cruising at Mach 0.82. But, being a larger and heavier aircraft, it’s also considerably thirstier. In contrast, the lighter weight Falcon 900LX can fly eight passengers 4,500+ nm and it gets better fuel mileage, but it also cruises at Mach 0.75-0.78 on the longest missions. Now that G500 deliveries are in full swing, there’s downward pressure of G450 resale prices.
The COVID-19 crisis has further depressed the market. Thus, if you are interested in stepping up to a long-range, large-cabin Gulfstream, G450 could be quite a bargain in late 2020.