The Company You Keep
Pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Company started a corporate flight department in 1966. The one constant throughout the group’s 50-year history: Gulfstream aircraft in its hangar, starting with a Gulfstream I.
“We’re very loyal to Gulfstream and for good reason,” says Scott Farrar, Lilly’s senior director for aviation operations. “The dispatch reliability and the performance—real performance, where the aircraft does what the company says it does with the seats filled—are second to none.”
Lilly’s experience underscores the respect aircraft operators profess for Gulfstream in industry survey after industry survey. The company has topped the JETNET iQ survey of business aircraft operators in the brand reputation category since the survey’s 2011 inception.
In another study, the 2015 Business Jet Traveler Readers’ Choice Survey, Gulfstream topped large-cabin business aircraft rivals in overall customer satisfaction and led all manufacturers in categories such as reliability, technology and product support.
“Brand is not the logo on the building; brand is what people believe you are,” says Mark Burns, president, Gulfstream. “We are a company customers count on. One they trust.”
The overwhelming operator recognition is a result of Gulfstream’s comprehensive approach to designing, building and maintaining aircraft—a philosophy that has resonated with customers since the 1958 debut of the Gulfstream I, the world’s first purpose-built business aircraft. Gulfstream’s high marks for everything from cabin comfort and technology to reliability and product support reflect that success.
Coca-Cola’s loyalty to Gulfstream stretches back 56 years and more than 30 aircraft. That commitment alone is a testament to Gulfstream’s reputation for delivering on promises and exceeding expectations, says William D. Kahle, Coca-Cola’s general manager for corporate aviation.
“Buying aircraft from Gulfstream is much more than a transaction for us,” Kahle says. “The transaction is the end result of the various relationships that have been built over time, and that’s about the people. There is a family feel to the relationship, and that’s part of the appeal to us. Gulfstream values its customers.”
Gulfstream has offered value to customers since the Gulfstream I. That aircraft not only met design specifications but exceeded performance promises by delivering an additional 340 nautical miles in range.
The five Gulfstream models currently in production—the G650ER, G650, G550, G450 and G280—all met or exceeded the initial promises made by the company’s leadership. The G550 ushered in a new era in technology with PlaneView, the first fully integrated avionics suite in civil aviation, and the G650ER forever changed long-range travel with its ability to fly 7,500 nautical miles/13,890 kilometers nonstop.
"Brand is not the logo on the building; brand is what people believe you are,” says Mark Burns, president, Gulfstream. “We are a company customers count on. One they trust."
The two Gulfstream aircraft in development, the G500 and G600, are poised to do likewise. Both will be equipped with the revolutionary Symmetry Flight Deck, highlighted by active control sidesticks and touch-screen controllers, and are on pace for on-time delivery. The G500 is projected to receive Federal Aviation Administration certification next year while the G600 is set to enter flight test well ahead of schedule.
As Dan Nale, Gulfstream’s senior vice president for Programs, Engineering and Test, says, “Delivering on our promises is a tradition at Gulfstream.”
The tradition was built one aircraft model at a time and encompasses successes in performance, advanced technology, comfort, maintainability, reliability and availability. That today Gulfstream manufactures multiple models meant to fit a variety of missions—cross-country trips and overseas treks alike—speaks to Burns’ “dream, develop and deliver” mantra.
The aircraft often go beyond even Gulfstream’s imagination. When engineers set out to create the fastest ultralong-range business aircraft in the G650, they topped their own expectations: The G650 delivered 6,000 nautical miles/11,112 kilometers at Mach 0.90, an additional 1,000 nautical miles/1,852 kilometers above the original range target at that speed.
Customers embraced—and leveraged—the never-before-possible speed advantages of the G650. Scott Neal, Gulfstream’s senior vice president for Worldwide Sales and Marketing, hears often about operators using speed for every mission.
“They look at how far they have to go and calculate the top speed they can fly for that mission,” Neal says.
"You are with an organization that covers your back, wherever and whenever you need them,” pilot Soren Jacobsen says. “Gulfstream owns that market.”
Gulfstream expanded its speed advantage with the debut of the G650ER, which delivers 6,400 nautical miles/11,853 kilometers at Mach 0.90. Gulfstream exceeded its delivery promise for that aircraft, with the first G650ER customer receiving the jet two months ahead of schedule.
The combination of speed and range paired with a spacious interior tailored for such long flights resulted in the G650 winning the 2014 Robert J. Collier Trophy, the most prestigious award in aeronautics and astronautics in America.
The G650 and G650ER weren’t the first models in the Gulfstream fleet to reset industry standards. The G280 brought large-cabin aircraft features to the super-midsize class in 2012, with a 3,600-nautical-mile/6,667-kilometer range—exceeding design specs by 200 nautical miles/370 kilometers—an autobraking system and Enhanced Vision System.
The G550’s flight deck advances led to the aircraft earning the 2003 Collier Trophy. The G450, equipped with the same flight deck, was introduced two years later and wowed the industry with a 2,500-pound/1,134-kilogram payload capacity when fully fueled.
Gulfstream demonstrates excellence to such an extent that when aviation enthusiasts talk about the company, the first topic tends to be speculation about what innovation they expect next, says Kenn Ricci, an aviation entrepreneur who heads Flexjet, the exclusive fractional ownership operator of new Gulfstream aircraft.
“Gulfstream is business aviation’s most iconic brand for a reason,” Ricci says.
A significant ingredient in what pilot Soren Jacobsen calls the “Gulfstream formula” is the company’s commitment to product support.
No other manufacturer is as dedicated to the buyer once “they hand over the keys” as Gulfstream is, according to Jacobsen, the chief pilot for a G650 managed by Landmark Aviation. The relationship between Gulfstream and the customer doesn’t end with the sale, it grows stronger, he says.
“You are with an organization that covers your back, wherever and whenever you need them,” Jacobsen says. “Gulfstream owns that market.”
Operator accolades attest to Gulfstream’s success as innovator, manufacturer and service provider, one Burns says the company will continue to build upon. Gulfstream leads the industry with an 89 percent positive brand reputation because operators know the company can be counted on to deliver on promises, exceed expectations and treat every customer as if they are the only customer. That’s why operators know they’re in good company with the company they keep—Gulfstream.
“We haven’t had Gulfstreams in our hangar for 50 years just because we like them or because they’re pretty,” Lilly’s Farrar says. “It’s because they’re reliable, because they fly higher and faster and because they cost less to operate.”
Promises Made. Kept. Exceeded.
Announced: May 19, 2014
Entry into Service: November 14, 2014
Delivered two months earlier than promised
Announced: March 13, 2008
Entry into Service: December 20, 2012
Delivered on time with an additional 1,000 nautical miles of range at Mach 0.90
Announced: October 9, 2000
Entry into Service: September 17, 2003
Delivered on time and introduced the first fully integrated avionics suite in civil aviation
Announced: October 6, 2003
Entry into Service: May 7, 2005
Delivered on time with 700 pounds greater payload capacity than promised
Announced: October 5, 2008
Entry into Service: November 14, 2012
Delivered an additional 200 nautical miles of range and shortened takeoff distance by 250 feet
NBAA IFR theoretical range. Actual range will be affected by ATC routing, operating speed, number of passengers, weather, outfitting options and other factors.
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