Win, Win Again, Repeat

Gulfstream becomes history’s only business aviation company to win the prestigious Collier Trophy three times
technology, aviation, g650, g650er, g550, g500, g600
Written By Kelly Harley

Once again, Gulfstream Aerospace stands alone.

In June, the company made aviation history when it earned the Robert J. Collier Trophy, the most prestigious award in aeronautics and astronautics in America, for the Gulfstream G650.

In the trophy’s 105-year history, no business aviation company has won the competition three times.

Until now.

“To win a Collier even once is a great honor, as it is clearly the most historic and visible aviation and aerospace honor in the world,” says Jonathan Gaffney, president, National Aeronautic Association. “To receive it more than once in its history is a testament to the individuals, companies, and organizations to which it has been awarded, as they have shown advancements with different projects and accomplishments.”

The Collier Trophy is awarded annually by the NAA for the greatest achievement in improving aspects of aeronautics or astronautics in America.

In 1997, Gulfstream and the Gulfstream GV team won for the successful application of advance design and efficient manufacturing techniques to deliver the world’s first ultralong-range business jet.

In 2003, the Gulfstream G550 team accepted the trophy for designing, testing and building an innovative aircraft while incorporating safety enhancements and far-reaching advances in aerospace technology.

In 2014, Gulfstream was awarded the honor for the development of the Gulfstream G650 business jet, which strengthened business aviation through significant technology advancements in aircraft performance, cabin comfort, and safety.

Good Company

The Collier wins put Gulfstream in a category with those who have pioneered aviation and space travel. Past recipients include Orville Wright for development of the automatic stabilizer, Chuck Yeager for breaking the sound barrier, Neil Armstrong for walking on the moon and NASA for landing a car-sized research vehicle, known as Curiosity, on Mars.

“When you look at the amazing talent of past winners, it’s truly humbling to know that Gulfstream is among the finest research and development companies in a highly competitive and complex industry,” says Mark Burns, president, Gulfstream. “These achievements prove that our products set the world standard, and often surpass the expectations of what is possible for an entire industry. The wins also recognize the commitment of General Dynamics, Gulfstream’s parent company, in supporting our people and fostering an environment where research thrives.”

The Aircraft

The GV was the world’s first ultralong-range business jet. The aircraft is capable of flying 6,500 nautical miles. The GV set 59 world and national records including the first nonstop flight from New York to Tokyo by a business jet.

When the G550 arrived on the market, it was the most advanced aircraft in the world. “When we first said we’re going to do a G550 and it’s going to have an increase in range, many of our engineers said, ‘You can’t do that; the GV is already flying as far as it can,’” says Mike Mena, former program manager of the G550.

Turns out, they could and did do it. The G550 covers 6,750 nautical miles at Mach 0.80. It also offers significant safety advancements in the PlaneView cockpit, such as an enhanced vision system and head-up display as standard features.

The G650 has garnered every possible superlative: biggest, fastest, farthest, best of the best. The trendsetting aircraft can fly 7,000 nautical miles at a Mach 0.85 cruising speed, and has a maximum operating speed of Mach 0.925. In 2013, the aircraft set the world speed record for a westbound circumnavigation of the globe at 41 hours, 7 minutes, a nearly 10 percent improvement over the previous record—also held by Gulfstream.

“We created a class of airplane all to itself that included state-of-the-art manufacturing technology, aero and performance engineering, and improved safety measures at long-range, high-cruise speeds,” says Kurt Erbacher, former G650 program manager.

Gulfstream announced the G650’s sister ship, the G650ER, in May 2014. The G650ER has an extended range of 7,500 nautical miles.

Pres Henne, Gulfstream’s past senior vice president for programs, engineering and test, played a tremendous role in leading the design of the Collier Trophy-winning GV, G550 and G650. “If you stand still in the aircraft business, competitors will catch and pass you,” says Henne. “Gulfstream is known for the best product, and the employees are proud of that. Perhaps, more importantly, the employees are motivated to keep it that way.”

On the Horizon

Gulfstream remains committed to the future. In October 2014, the company announced two new products that in many ways are even more advanced than anything seen before. The G500 and G600 feature the Gulfstream Symmetry Flight Deck™, which incorporates touch screens and active control sidesticks, more industry firsts.

“Gulfstream has a DNA that can be compared to that of the Wright Brothers,” says Dan Nale, senior vice president for programs, engineering and test, Gulfstream. “We are driven; we’re developing and investing in the latest technology. We are incorporating the environment, the labs, the research, the capabilities and the talent of our people to achieve our goals. The opportunity for us to win a future Collier is definitely there.”

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