Gulfstream goes where the commercial airlines don’t

While there are plenty of commercial airline options for those whose business requires travel from Europe to Asia, that is not the case everywhere around the world.

For example, corporate executives face limited air links when flying between China and Africa, or Asia to South America.

The choice these folks face is either to undertake a multi-stop itinerary that could involve hours in transit or putting a potential business opportunity in the too-hard basket and staying home.

Gulfstream regional senior vice president for international sales Asia Pacific Roger Sperry offers a third option. A business jet.

The Savannah-based aircraft manufacturer boasts some of the longest range business aviation aircraft in the world, including its flagship G650ER that is on display at the Australian International Airshow at Avalon this week alongside sisterships the G550 and smaller G280.

And with all the necessities for modern business women and men – high speed internet, conference facilities, sleeping areas – Sperry says aircraft such as the G650ER with its 7,500nm range when cruising at Mach 0.85 can pave the way for opening up new ventures in faraway lands.

“It gives corporations the confidence to expand their business and to be there face to face,” Sperry said on Wednesday on board the G650ER at Avalon.

“You can take a look at a CEO and a management team and say what is it worth per hour of their time and if you can save on a long-range trip an hour or two then that goes to the bottom line.

“We’ve got companies in Asia that will do business in Africa, they will do business in South America and what this does, it gives them an aircraft that has far better range on it which makes them more efficient.”

Gulfstream has 18 aircraft in Australia and New Zealand, including five of the ultra long-range G650ER variant that Sperry expected would grow in popularity in the period ahead as current owners trade up to larger, more capable business jets.

“What we are seeing in Australia is there is starting to be a larger number of these aircraft coming down here to replace competitor airplanes if you will, the older Gulfstreams, the Brand Xs, just because of the capability of the aircraft,” Sperry said of the G650ER.

Sperry said Australia was an important market for Gulfstream, which in 2016 established a full-time field representative in Australia and currently had about $5 million worth of spare parts in the country and $50 million in the wider Asia Pacific region.

“The local market is good. We are very optimistic about the market,” Sperry said.

“We are placing an emphasis in this market. If we didn’t believe in it and we weren’t optimistic we wouldn’t be going to that expense.”

Sperry said Gulfstream was making good progress on its two new aircraft programs the G500 and G600, which were both launched in 2014.

The G500, which has a maximum range of 5,000nm and seats up to 19 people, had its first flight in May 2015 and there were currently five aircraft in the test fleet, including one with a full production interior. The program has accumulated about 2,350 hours in the flight test program, with certification planned to take place before the end of 2017.

Meanwhile, the 6,200nm-range G600 has so far clocked up about 150 hours since its first flight in December 2016. The second flight test aircraft took to the skies at the end of February, when it reached an altitude of 51,000 feet. Gulfstream expected the G600 to receive certification before the end of 2018.

The G500 and G600 feature a number of technological advancements such as new interactive sidestick controls, eliminating the yoke seen on other Gulfstream models.

“The projects have been going extremely well,” Sperry said.

“The bottom line – we are ahead of schedule.”