Gulfstream Expects First G800 Flight ‘Very Shortly’
GENEVA—After Gulfstream entered the G650 into service in 2012, it set out to create a new family of aircraft with commonality—the G400, G500, G600, G700 and G800—and look holistically at the total lifecycle, from manufacturing to aftermarket support.
Gulfstream has now built the first test G800 and will “begin flying the airplane very, very shortly,” says Mark Burns, the company’s president, speaking here at EBACE.
“We’re very satisfied with the maturity of this design” for the 8,000-nm-range G800, which will succeed the G650, he adds.
Even though the G800 will replace the G650, Burns says the OEM has extended the planned production of that aircraft due to demand. “The last five quarters have been phenomenal” for G650 orders, so Burns says Gulfstream has increased the production rate for the 7,500-nm-range aircraft for 2022, 2023 and 2024.
When Gulfstream announced the G800 in early October 2021, Burns says it had a definitive date for when G650 production would stop. “I will tell you today that there is no definitive date based on the overall demand in the market,” says Burns.
He also announced that Gulfstream has started manufacturing the first G400 test aircraft. That aircraft will have a range of 4,200 nm.
“The important part of designing a new airplane is not just thinking about the performance of the airplane, but how you will manufacture that airplane—the precision with which you build the airplane, the fit and finish,” says Burns. That all increases the “quality and longevity of the product.”
This was part of the philosophy that drove Gulfstream to build its own wings for the first time. Burns says the precision manufacturing it uses for the wings aspires it to produce defect-free products. “Having purchased wings from a lot of different companies through the years,” Burns says, “we are the high-quality, low-cost provider of wings in this industry and it has helped us increase the pace at which we can build all of those new models of aircraft.”
The G500 was the first of the range to enter service back in 2018 before the G600 followed in 2019. Gulfstream anticipates entry into service in the coming years for the G700 (2022 or 2023), G800 (2023) and G400 (2025).
Doubts around the entry date for the G700 are down to FAA certification, which could slip beyond 2022 due to a regulatory issue. Burns says that aircraft program has flown almost 3,000 flight test hours so far and “the performance numbers are better than we anticipated, better than we sold to customers.”
The efforts and the investments Gulfstream has made over the past decades are materializing in not only new aircraft coming online over the next couple of years, but also in new service centers opening.
To keep up with its growing fleet—there are more than 3,000 Gulfstreams in service today—the OEM is building more purpose-built service facilities. It is breaking ground for a service center in Mesa, Arizona, that is scheduled to open in 2023. The new facility will accommodate about a dozen aircraft.
Its service center in Fort Worth should open this summer.
In addition, it added add 24/7 technical support contacts to its Farnborough Service Center to accommodate a bigger European fleet.