The Range Leader
For business aircraft operators in the Western Hemisphere and Europe, Australia and its neighbor, New Zealand, were long considered among those “you can’t get there from here” locales.
North and South America are the full width of the Pacific Ocean away, one of the longest over-water routes on the planet. To the west across the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Peninsula is a desirable yet often-too-distant waypoint for those traveling on to Europe.
Then along came the Gulfstream G650ER.
Gulfstream’s flagship aircraft is shortening those down-under journeys as well as many more long-haul flights around the world. The farthest-reaching business jet in existence, the G650ER will fly 7,500 nautical miles when carrying eight passengers and four crew in typical wind conditions*.
Travel lighter and with a strong tailwind, as an aircraft owned by customer Steve Wynn did in flying nonstop from Singapore to Las Vegas in 2015, and the G650ER can eclipse 8,000 nautical miles.
“The G650ER is a game-changer,” Wynn says. “I fly around the world for my business, and this aircraft takes me there.”
The aircraft is shrinking the world for private aircraft travelers. Nonstop flights between the Middle East and the U.S. East Coast are no longer contingent on wind conditions. China’s major cities are now easily reachable from New York, Washington, D.C., and other U.S. business hubs.
Europeans shave hours off of flight times to locales throughout North America and Africa and most of Asia and South America by flying at the G650ER’s high-speed cruise of Mach 0.90.
And yes, Australians and their Kiwi neighbors can fly to the U.S. West Coast without stopping for fuel in Hawaii or Tahiti aboard the G650ER. They can go nonstop to Jeddah, Dubai and other Middle East capitals as well.
“Greater range at higher speed is what every operator who regularly flies long distances craves,” says Jake Howard, a Gulfstream senior test pilot. “For Gulfstream customers, their time is their most valuable asset, so the more nonstop trips they do or the faster they fly between fueling stops, the better.”
The Gulfstream G650ER flies 500 nautical miles more than its sister aircraft, the G650, and 1,050 nautical miles farther than the longest-range jet currently in service from other business aircraft manufacturers. With every 500 nautical miles equating to approximately one extra hour aloft at a long-range cruise speed of Mach 0.85, and with the average refueling stop extending trip durations by a minimum of 60 minutes, the additional range translates to significant time savings.
The G650ER’s ability to cruise for 6,400 nautical miles at Mach 0.90—approximately 600 miles per hour—is similarly advantageous. That speed is the maximum speed for a competitor’s long-range aircraft. Those jets cruise approximately 30 mph slower, a meaningful difference on flights that can regularly last in excess of 10 hours.
“The range at Mach 0.90 is where operators are finding the most utility,” says Ben Debry, senior manager, Technical Marketing, Gulfstream. “Long flights are over one hour quicker at that speed.”
The G650ER’s nonstop range at Mach 0.90 is enough to link London to Singapore, Hong Kong to Los Angeles, New York to Dubai and Sydney to Buenos Aires. One customer utilizes the aircraft’s range and speed combination to fly between Brazil and Paris as often as a half-dozen times per month.
“The customers are pushing their flight crews to go, go, go, to really use the aircraft for what it is designed for,” says Lacie Garner, a Gulfstream cabin systems specialist who trains customer flight crews as their new G650ERs enter service. “The more you fly the aircraft, the better it does. It’s fast. It’s long. It really is an amazing machine.”
“We designed a living space, not a passenger cabin.”
The city-pairs available when operating the G650ER at its long-range cruise speed are stunning. The 7,500 nautical mile-range puts routes usually only covered by giant airliners within a business aircraft’s nonstop reach. City-pairs include Rio de Janeiro to Mumbai, Washington, D.C. to Johannesburg and Shanghai to Miami.
Gulfstream has demonstrated the G650ER’s range on a number of world record flights. The aircraft flew from Los Angeles to Melbourne, Australia, in 14 hours, 58 minutes and Hong Kong to Teterboro, New Jersey, located across the Hudson River from Manhattan, New York, in 14 hours, 7 minutes. Both records were set when the aircraft was still in flight testing.
The G650ER flew around the world in one stop, from New York to Beijing and Beijing to Savannah, in February 2015 and set the speed mark between Dubai and Teterboro—13 hours, 10 minutes at Mach 0.87—later that year.
Developing an aircraft that performs like the G650ER requires attention to more than just aerodynamics and engine power. The cabin must be comfortable and loaded with amenities to make those 12-plus hour flights fly by.
“We designed a living space, not a passenger cabin,” says Jeff Kreide, vice president, Completions Engineering, Gulfstream. “The customer experience is important in all our aircraft, but nowhere more so than in one built to fly those distances.”
The G650ER and its sister aircraft, the G650, feature the most spacious cabin in business aviation, more than eight feet in width and with a 6-foot, 5-inch ceiling height. The room allows for as many as four living areas and can accommodate six-place dining or conference tables, stateroom sleeping quarters complete with a full bed or berthable divan, a shower in the lavatory, even a media room arrangement, with a credenza and monitor positioned opposite a large sofa. Bulkheads and pocket doors can be positioned at several points along the cabin for tremendous flexibility.
To further accentuate the feeling of spaciousness, Gulfstream enlarged its signature oval windows to flood the cabin with natural light and provide panoramic views.
“No matter if there are two passengers on board or 19, the way the cabin can be configured, there’s always privacy,” Garner says. “There is just so much space.”
Gulfstream maximizes the room. Long flights demand a big galley, large enough to store and prepare food for multiple meals. Closets and drawers are located throughout the cabin to provide ample storage for linens, blankets and other necessities on an aircraft that can sleep up to 10 passengers.
Even the oversized trash cans were designed for extended trips.
For all the space considerations, the innovations with the biggest impact on the passenger experience are the environmental and media systems. The aircraft has the lowest cabin altitude in business aviation, making the body feel as if one is on the ground at 4,060 feet instead of in the air at 45,000 feet. Only fresh air—replenished every two minutes—is circulated through the cabin.
As for the quietness of the cabin, the acoustics are so advanced passengers can easily converse without raising their voices and light sleepers drift off without the use of earplugs or noise-canceling headphones.
The entertainment and communications amenities are state-of-the-art, with high-definition monitors, high-speed internet connectivity and HDMI ports. Customers conduct business meetings, watch movies, even review photographs from their recent travels on board.
“We’re very proud of the cabin because it allows customers to live their normal lifestyle while traveling,” says Matt Kossler, director, Completions Engineering, Gulfstream. “They’re not forced to be just a seated passenger. There’s much more to do than look out a window.”
How appropriate, considering the G650ER was designed to expand the travel window, no matter the departure or arrival spot.
*Theoretical maximum range is based on cruise at Mach 0.85 with eight passengers, four crew and NBAA IFR fuel reserves. Actual performance will be affected by ATC routing, operating speed, weather, outfitting options and other factors.
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