Scott Neal, senior vice president worldwide sales and market for Gulfstream Aerospace, says that the US$44.65 million, 5,000-nm-range G500 and US$54.5 million, 6,200-nm-range G600 are on track for entry into service in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Gulfstream elected not to sidetrack one of its four G500 flight test aircraft to make a debut at EBACE 2016 to keep the program on schedule.

The four G500 flight test aircraft now have completed nearly 250 flights, amassing more than 1,000 flight hours. G500 has soared to 53,000 ft., flown to Mach 0.995 and stayed aloft as long as 7 hours 26 minutes. Neal said that the aircraft have demonstrated “outstanding reliability,” in large part due to wringing out components for nearly 50,000 hours on the G500 iron bird mockup at the firm’s Savannah R&D campus. A G500 static test article has completed ultimate load limit tests.

Neal emphasized that G500 and G600 are designed with the “voice of the customer” in mind, offering unparalleled range at Mach 0.85 normal cruise, lower fuel consumption and carbon emissions than Gulfstream’s previous generation of large-cabin aircraft, wider cabins, G650-size windows and Gulfstream’s new Symmetry flight deck, featuring 10 touchscreen displays and civil aviation’s first active side-sticks. More importantly to customers, they offer essentially the same leg room between seats as G650, the lowest cabin altitude in class and 100% fresh air.

The first G500 production aircraft now is being outfitted with an interior, in preparation for extensive F&R proving flights. In light of Gulfstream’s steep learning curve with the G650 interior kit, the firm is devoting special attention to maturing the G500 interior to make the aircraft’s entry into service smoother for the first customers.

G600 is well on its way to first flight by 4Q16, ahead of Gulfstream’s original 2017 projection. The G600 iron bird mockup has made its “first flight”; the first flight test aircraft fuselage and wing have been mated; and the second flight test aircraft is in production, along with a ground structural test article. Pilots will be able to use a common G500 / G600 type rating to fly both models. But the pilot type rating will not be shared with G650 due to large scale differences in cockpit layout.

The progress being made on the two new models comes at an opportune time for Gulfstream. Company president Mark Burns says deliveries of current production aircraft are “kind of flattish,” with 2016 results expected to parallel 2015 deliveries. But the firm is banking on its financial strength, its track record of delivering on its promises and its top-rated product support to uphold its brand loyalty with its customers. The Gulfstream fleet has grown from fewer than 2,000 aircraft in 2010 to more than 2,500 aircraft in 2015. Its international fleet has grown by more than 45% during the same five-year period, with more than 220 Gulfstream aircraft now based in Europe. “Product support is integral to our strategy.”

The firm has its long-standing service facility at London-Luton; six authorized service providers in Continental Europe, including new sites at Jet Aviation in Vienna and Altenrhein Aviation in Berlin; plus a US$120 million cache of parts at a distribution center at London Heathrow Airport that supplements its parts inventory at Luton.

“We’re looking to expand our footprint at Luton,” Burns adds.

Gulfstream also is expanding its FAST field and airborne support network, adding more customer support trucks and making more than 750 support trips in 2015. As a result, AOG times are being cut substantially.

While the overall business aircraft market currently may be “flattish,” Gulfstream officials are confident their firm, with the solid backing of parent General Dynamics, will experience strong growth in coming years.