Gulfstream has enjoyed a long run as the only manufacturer in the 6500nm plus range of aircraft for a while. They gained a huge head start with the launch of the G650 in 2008. The launch was like none other when they unveiled a complete aircraft in Savannah, ready to fly with certification around the corner. They amassed an order book of over 200 units quickly to kick start the program. The competition was caught a bit flat footed and the economy that followed did not add fuel to their developmental machines to position them well to compete.
While loyal Bombardier and FalconJet customers waited for the Global 7000 and Falcon 8X, respectively, Gulfstream continued to grow their in-service fleet of G650 and G650ER aircraft, now totaling over 300 units. A very impressive run for an aircraft that lists for nearly $70M.
As the G450 production run officially ended, it was only natural for a G650 derivative to fill the gap. Gulfstream announced the G500 and G600 to do so with certification of both aircraft in progress and anticipated for late 2018 and early 2019, respectively. These aircraft fill the 5200nm and 6500nm range profiles exceptionally well.
Surprisingly, Gulfstream departed from the historical Rolls-Royce engine brand loyalty and mounted a pair of PWC 800 engines on the clean sheet design, providing the cabin features and amenities Gulfstream excels at including - noticeably larger oval-shaped windows. It is also clear they have focused on making the cabin as luxurious yet functional as possible.
The order books for the G500 and G600 are good and the outlook generally positive as the economy continues to accelerate and grow. However, certification has taken longer than expected [G500 certification approved just this week(7/20/2018) and G600 certification pending]. Although some are speculating about potential performance short-comings from the forecasted capability of the aircraft, Gulfstream has repeatedly under promised and over performed in the area of aircraft performance. Hence the delays may be to ensure they do so again. Press releases on records set thus far provide some insight to how the aircraft are stacking up.
Nonetheless the certification delay and the rapid economic improvement has provided a window of opportunity for the competition. Enter the Bombardier Global 5500 and Global 6500. Similar to the Gulfstream G-650 roll-out, Bombardier is offering two very capable ready-to-fly aircraft incorporating all of the innovation and technology of the Global 7000, now branded Global 7500. The ability to deliver aircraft in short order has positioned Bombardier very well from a timing perspective in this high end, high demand and high profit market.
Touting the smoothest ride, largest cabin, best seat via the patented “Nuage” (French for the word cloud), sharpest entertainment with 4K-enabled cabin, longest range combined with impressive airfield performance, and significant technological innovation in the cockpit, the Global 5500 and Global 6500 are sure to give Gulfstream a run for the money.
The key to Bombardier’s ability to launch, quickly certify and place into service this dynamic duo of aircraft is due to the innovative approach they chose to take. By improving the performance capability out of the proven Global 5000 and Global 6000 airframes, Bombardier has been able to glean a 10% improvement in range.
This was accomplished by working closely with Rolls-Royce under strict secrecy for the past two years. The Rolls Royce Pearl engine was developed with a new technology core producing 7% fuel savings while still fitting perfectly into the existing engine nacelle and pylon configuration on the aircraft. Refining the aerodynamics of the trailing edge of the wing and additional 3% of efficiency was achieved, yielding a combined 10% range improvement for each aircraft in very short order.
The cyclical business jet market has proven many times before that timing truly can be everything as many mis-timed products have proven to be unsuccessful due in no part to the products capabilities. Bombardier’s ability to place the Global 5500 and Global 6500 in the market just as it is heating up will enhance the success of both programs and provide Gulfstream some serious competition at the top of the market. We are ready to enjoy the ride!
*As posted previously on LInkedIn at