Gulfstream G700 Mockup Almost As Complex As The Real Thing
Sorry, you can’t look in that room,” Bombardier officials were told as they toured the Jeff Bonner R&D (JBRND) facility in San Antonio, Tex., while liaising on subcontract business. Taking shape on the other side of the door was a top-secret, full-size cabin mockup of the next business jet from archrivals Gulfstream, which sought anonymity under the vague designation P.22, but which we know as the G700.
It was three years ago that Gulfstream approached JBRND with a commission to construct a traveling demonstration fuselage. This would need to be separated into two parts for road transport, recalled Ed Harris, VP of sales and program management, the requirement being for a pair of 53-ft. flatbed trailers.
Er…, except that, for loading reasons, standard “flatbeds” are not actually built flat. These needed to be specially commissioned from bespoke makers not overly inclined to embark on one-off jobs, and fitted with mutual leveling sensors that take up to an hour to computer-align themselves so the fuselage is seamless and flat when joined up for marketing displays.
And, of course, as in a real business airplane, prospective customers expect some protection from the midday sun of the NBAA-BACE static display. Cue a pair of five-ton air-conditioning units and clever technology to ensure they work in unison.
By August 2018, after two years’ work, the entourage was ready for handing over to Gulfstream for interior fitting. But only after an 8-hr. “road test” navigating the worst surfaces the traveling show could be expected to encounter.
Even then, the story continued, because 100 employees remained under nondisclosure agreements for a further year, while JBRND built a smaller, 20-ft. model for supporting publicity purposes.
It must be a great relief now not to have to worry about letting the secret slip. But “Thanks very much,” said Gulfstream, “and when we do the next airplane…”
Ed Harris is keen.