“When you get into the larger aircraft it becomes like a hotel, with dozens of staff supporting the plane based in a galley area down below. You have very comprehensive cooking facilities, and on larger aircraft we have looked at theatres, with spiral staircases and a Steinway grand piano. The limitations for what you can put inside a plane are pretty much the limits of physics, and even money cannot always overcome that. Even so, people are still always trying to push [the limits]. ”
Gulfstream's G650, which the company will start delivering in 2012, will be the world's fastest and longest range business jet. Its tall and wide-bodied cabin-the largest in the company's fleet-will boast the latest in comfort and convenience features.
The $64.5 million model, which first flew last year, is both a significant departure and a natural progression from the manufacturer's previous line of large jets-airplanes whose lineage and fuselage diameter can be traced back to the Grumman Gulfstream II of the mid-1960s. By 2003, that original GII design had evolved into the $48 million G550, which mated the latest bells and whistles to an airframe-engine combination that can carry eight passengers and a crew of four 6,750 nautical miles nonstop.
Power on the G650 comes from a pair of 16,100-pound-thrust Rolls-Royce BR725 engines, which are more efficient than their predecessor, the BR710. The new engines produce almost 5 percent more takeoff thrust while reducing nitrogen oxide emissions by 5 percent and smoke by 10 percent. They are also 33-percent quieter than the BR710s, reducing noise levels to 17 decibels below Stage 4 standards. The BR725s have an impressive 10,000-hour recommended time between overhauls, the equivalent of 24 years of average corporate operation.
The new engines, increased use of material bonding, composite materials and more monolithic structures, combined with more efficient wing design, translate into better aerodynamics, weight savings and greater efficiencies in manufacture and operation. For example, the G650's 28- by 20.5-inch windows-the industry's largest- are 16 percent bigger than the G550's but use 78 percent fewer parts, thereby cutting assembly time in half. (The oval windows, incidentally, are spaced farther apart than the G550's and are slightly higher on the fuselage to improve viewing angle.)
This design philosophy means not only lower fuel burns but impressive potential travel-time savings as well. For example, Gulfstream says the G650 can fly the 6,370 nautical miles from Dubai to Chicago 88 minutes faster than any other civilian jet. The aircraft can also land in primitive environments and adverse weather thanks to integrated head-up and synthetic-vision systems that include the
Gulfstream enhanced-vision system, the synthetic-vision primary flight display system and head-up display.
These systems work together to give pilots a view of terrain, obstacles and runways, regardless of the weather. The EVS uses a forward-looking infrared camera that captures actual ground images and projects them on the pilot's head-up display, while the synthetic-vision system employs 3-D color terrain images from an onboard database.
The G650 can go where even the most sophisticated airliners cannot. Gulfstream didn't want to make the jet so large that it couldn't land in places that ban aircraft over 100,000 pounds, such as Aspen, Colo.; Sun Valley, Idaho; and Teterboro, N.J. Nor did it want to have to rely on ground-based systems such as power carts.
The quieter engines not only enable the G650 to conform to all existing and anticipated airport noise restrictions, they also make for a quieter cabin. The fuselage's oval shape is more aerodynamically efficient than the G550's round-tube design and offers more cabin space. The unfinished cabin measures 102 inches wide and 77 inches high (75 inches finished). The G650's floor is 80 inches wide (15 inches wider than the G550's) and the interior sidewall-to-sidewall width (at shoulders, seated) is 98 inches. This means more seat recline, legroom and stateroom options as well as larger galleys, lavatories, baggage and crew-rest areas. The wider floor allows for larger seats, wider aisles and the ability to seat three across in conference and dining groupings. The single executive seats are 28 inches wide-two inches wider than those in the G550.
Key interior components have been dramatically enlarged. For a business jet, the main external entry door is massive-almost 75 inches tall as opposed to 59.25 inches on the G550. The baggage area provides 195 cubic feet of space and is accessible at all altitudes through the aft lavatory. Compared with the G550's external baggage door, the one on the G650 is 8 percent bigger and four inches lower to provide for easier loading. The airplane has both forward and aft lavatories.
The G650 has a 100-percent fresh-air system and provides a lower cabin altitude than other large business jets-4,850 feet when flying at 51,000 feet and 2,800 feet when flying at 41,000 feet. The environmental-control system features quieter air distribution than the G550 and independently vented lavatories.
You can configure the cabin for 11 to 18 passenger seats in one of 12 floor plans, including six with forward galleys and six with aft galleys, with or without crew-rest areas. The mid-cabin credenza opposite the conference area can be replaced with two single seats and a sidewall table. This effectively creates a six-seat conference/dining area. The optional aft stateroom area, forward of the aft lavatory, is available with forward galley plans. It features a single seat, table, storage, a 27-inch LED monitor and a berthing divan. The wide floor means that when the divan is deployed there is still ample aisle clearance to allow access to the aft lavatory and the baggage compartment.
Gulfstream will build the G650 at its new, dedicated 308,000-square-foot production plant in Savannah, Ga. The company says it already has 200 orders for the airplane.
At a Glance
Price (2009 dollars): $64.5 million
Range (@ Mach .85): 7,000 nm
Maximum cruise speed: Mach 0.925
Cabin Width: 8 ft 6 in
Cabin Height: 6 ft 5 in
Cabin Length: 53 ft 7 in
Cabin Volume: 2,138 cu ft