Gulfstream is angling to reclaim bragging rights as builder of the world’s biggest private jet.
The plane maker unveiled plans to make a roomier version of its flagship G650, which was unseated last year as the largest luxury jet by Bombardier Inc’s Global 7500. Gulfstream’s new G700, with an expected debut in 2022, will be capable of flying 7,500 nautical miles and cruise at just under the speed of sound.
At an industry conference on Monday in Las Vegas, Gulfstream President Mark Burns said the G700 has “the tallest, widest, longest cabin in our industry.”
Gulfstream, a unit of General Dynamics Corp, is betting that the $76mn G700 will entice the world’s wealthiest flyers with the bigger cabin and an upgraded range. The launch customer is Qatar Airways, which has ordered 10 aircraft for its charter service Qatar Executive.
Bombardier began deliveries of the Global 7500 in December, spurring speculation that Gulfstream would strike back with a larger plane. Bombardier’s jet, which came to market two years later than planned, was based on a new design.
“Global 7500 is the industry flagship. It’s a clean sheet design, built to perform like no other,” said David Coleal, president of Bombardier’s aviation unit. “Remember, anything else out there is just a stretch.”
The Bombardier plane has a range of 7,700 nautical miles and can fly as fast as Mach 0.925, or just less than the speed of sound. The $73mn aircraft has a wingspan of 104 feet, and its 111-foot length gives it room for four distinct seating zones.
Gulfstream waited to announce its latest plane until it delivered two new, smaller jets — the G500 and G600. The G600 began shipments to customers in June and the G500 debuted about a year earlier. The models were introduced in 2014. The G650 debuted in 2012.
A buyer unease is mounting in the luxury-jet market. A slowdown in orders could cause deliveries to begin flagging in 2021, according to a study by Honeywell International Inc. While an array of new aircraft models is expected to boost shipments this year and next, longer-term threats are emerging from the US-China trade war, the UK’s looming break from the European Union, and a shaky global economy.
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