Gulfstream Celebrates G700 World Tour Speed Records

Gulfstream commemorated the recent world tour of its sleek new G700 ultra-long-range business jet on Feb. 27 with a formal “blessing” of the 25-speed records it broke by the National Aeronautic Association (NAA).

During a nine-week global odyssey that started after the 2022 NBAA-BACE conference, two production copies of the still-to-be-certified twinjet logged 184 total flight hours, covering 53,882 nm in 22 countries across six continents, leaving numerous city-pair speed records in their wake. Among notable flight legs, the G700 flew from Gulfstream’s headquarters in Savannah, Georgia, to Bahrain in 12 hr., 34 min. at Mach 0.88 on a blend of sustainable aviation fuel, said Gulfstream Director of Flight Operations Scott Evans, one of the lead pilots.

Gulfstream held a special event at its Manhattan Sales and Design Center to recognize the accomplishment, which boosted to 33 the number of records held by the G700.

A Legacy Of Achievements

“You can say you set a record, but you really need a neutral observer with technical expertise to measure these things,” said NAA President and CEO Greg Principato, who addressed the gathering. “If you do it for us, you know it’s measured against 120 years of experience, both nationally and globally. When we certify a record, it means something.”

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In an adjoining conference room, framed certificates of each record-setting flight leg were displayed on a table. Principato also pointed out three trophies featured in display cases at the entrance of the design center—the prestigious Collier Trophies that NAA awarded Gulfstream in 1997 for the development of the Gulfstream V, in 2003 for the G550, and in 2014 for the G650.

Unveiled at the NBAA-BACE conference in 2019, the 7,500-nm-range, $78 million G700 will eventually replace the G650. Powered by two Rolls-Royce Pearl 700 turbofans, each rated at 18,250 lb. of takeoff thrust, it will be the largest of Gulfstream’s seven jets. The G700 and the G650ER share the same cabin cross-section dimensions (6 ft. 3 in. high, 8 ft. 2 in. wide), but the G700’s cabin length, excluding baggage space, is 10 ft. longer and features two additional Panoramic Oval cabin windows (20 total).

“This was a very important point for us in the development of this airplane, No. 1 to be able to show our customers that had confidence in us to buy this airplane, but secondarily to show the maturity and the reliability and the performance of this airplane,” Gulfstream President Mark Burns said of the world tour.

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Gulfstream’s Roomiest Cabin

“What we had the opportunity to do on this tour was showcase the business aircraft that has the widest, tallest and longest cabin in all of business aviation, and it was a hit at every stop,” added Scott Neal, Gulfstream senior vice president of worldwide sales.

“In fact, we had one customer join us on the aircraft, [who] came in and spent about 10 min. in the cabin and said, ‘alright, let’s go up front and sit down. I want to talk about buying one.’ About four minutes later we shook hands, and we have a new 700 order holder,” Neal related.

Gulfstream accomplished the record-setting tour as the G700 edges closer to FAA certification and entry into service. Changes the FAA made to its software validation process contributed to a slip in Gulfstream’s original plan to certify the jet in late 2022. During a fourth-quarter 2022 earnings call in January this year, Phebe Novakovic, chairman and CEO of Gulfstream parent company General Dynamics, said the manufacturer now expects to certify the G700 “this upcoming summer.”

Burns said the G700 was “in the final days of the certification process” and engaged in type inspection authorization flights with the FAA. There are five flight tests and two interior test jets participating.

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The manufacturer does not disclose the number of orders it has received or the launch customer. At the time of the G700 launch announcement in October 2019, Gulfstream said Qatar Executive, the business jet subsidiary of Qatar Airways, had placed an order for 10 of the new jets.

The G700 branches away from the G650 and extends a new generation of jets that started in 2018-19 with the smaller G500/G600 models, which introduced Gulfstream’s Symmetry flight deck, based on the Honeywell Primus Epic avionics system, and other innovations.

“This is the most investment we’ve made in developing a new series of airplanes,” said Burns. “In late 2014-15, based on the success that we had with the 650, we envisioned what would be the future of our company, and that was a whole new family of airplanes. We’ve been working on this for seven years; this didn’t just happen in the last couple of years.”

Wole Shadare