THE GULFSTREAM DIFFERENCE
Recognized as the worlds premium business jet, Gulfstream continue to lead the way in technological innovation, comfort and safety to which its demanding and busy clients rely on daily.
WORDS BY JACK FREEMAN IMAGES BY GULFSTREAM AEROSPACE
As the international elite and globetrotting millionaires and billionaires continue to advance in communications within both business and their personal lives, Private Jets have seen an increasing rise in sales globally. A leader in this surging demand has been Gulfstream Aerospace, a crowd favourite with a phenomenal safety record and high level of service offered 24 hours a day. With pricing reaching over sixty million dollars the aircraft prove to be in high demand with immense waiting lists for new and preowned aircraft, including the latest G650 ER, offering plush and spacious interiors catering to both inflight business and personal travel.
With the ability to seat comfortably 18 passengers or sleep 10 the 8.5 foot wide G650 has the ability to travel 13,000 kilometers non-stop, cruising at an altitude of 51,000 feet. Such efficiencies prove to be near impossible today as large corporations and private individuals looking to meet specific targets have become heavily restricted by unreliable commercial airlines. Thus as waiting lists soare, Gulfstream has thrived, we spoke exclusively to Jason Akovenko, regional vice president, Sales, Asia Pacific, Gulfstream regarding what sets Gulfstream apart.
What do you believe sets Gulfstream apart from other Business Jets?
The Gulfstream fleet offers the widest range of performance (both range and speed), a full suite of cabin amenities and capabilities, the most advanced technology and the most efficient operation. Combine those amenities with our award‐winning Product Support network, and you have a fleet that’s unrivaled in the industry. Ultimately, what sets our jets apart is the spirit of innovation and excellence that’s woven into every aspect of their creation, from design to delivery. Take, for example, our newest family of aircraft, the Gulfstream G500 and G600, which we announced in October 2014. The G500, scheduled to enter service in 2018, and the G600, which will follow in 2019, have been heralded for their performance, cabin comfort and fuel efficiency. These aircraft will revolutionize the business jet industry. Let’s start with the all‐new Symmetry Flight DeckTM, which will be the first in business aviation to offer active control sidesticks (ACSs) and a full suite of touchscreen controllers (vs. knobs and switches).
These ACSs are electronically linked to provide both active force feedback and physical motion, enhancing the coordination between pilots by allowing them to see and feel each other’s actions. Such active controls help prevent pilots from inadvertently fighting each other for control of the aircraft.
Additionally, the aircraft have 10 integrated touchscreen controllers, which were tailored to reduce the time it takes to prepare an aircraft for flight. Most business aircraft flight decks are full of switches and dials and require 20 minutes or more of preflight checks and adjustments. Gulfstream engineers wanted approximately half that time and got it. The intuitive and functional flight deck features approximately 70 percent fewer switches than the typical business aircraft cockpit. The capabilities don’t end there. The cabins are equally innovative, featuring panoramic oval windows that are the largest in business aviation, a cabin altitude that’s the lowest in business aviation, 100 percent fresh air that’s refreshed every two minutes and three or four living areas (depending on aircraft and configuration) that allow owners to tailor the cabin to suit their particular needs.
What is Gulfstream’s strongest market currently?
Geographically speaking, our strongest market remains North America. Our strongest international market is Asia Pacific. From a customer demographic standpoint, our strongest market is publicly and privately held companies, which comprise the majority of our operators.
How has international markets and growing interest changed over the past ten years?
For Gulfstream, the market experienced a dramatic shift in 2007. Until that time, the majority of our sales were domestic. In 2007, for the first time in our history, the majority of our sales were international. That shift changed the landscape for our installed fleet. In 2005, for example, 81 percent of our fleet was based in North America, with 19 percent located around the world. At the end of 2015, that shifted to 65 percent of the Gulfstream fleet based in North America with quickly growing fleets in Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Europe and Latin America. Today, our sales are almost evenly split between domestic and international.
Tell us about the latest G650 ER.
Pick a superlative and the G650ER can meet it. The G650ER goes farther and faster than any other business jet, with the ability to travel 7,500 nautical miles/13,890 kilometers at Mach 0.85 or 6,400 nm/11,853 km at Mach 0.90. That means passengers can go almost anywhere in the world nonstop, including Hong Kong to New York or Los Angeles to Australia.
Traveling at Mach 0.85 offers passengers a tremendous time savings, shaving more than 50 hours off their flight time over the course of a year. Just imagine what you could do with an extra 50 hours: spend more time with family, volunteer at a community organization, go sightseeing, invest more time in the business. The additional time opens up a range of possibilities. And the time you do spend traveling is just as productive, thanks to the largest purpose‐built cabin in business aviation, one that’s tailored to meet each passenger’s specific requirements. The cabin on the G650ER includes a number of technologically advanced systems, including the Gulfstream‐designed Cabin Management System, which allows passengers to use personal electronic devices to control high‐ definition audio and video components as well as lighting, temperature, window shades and other cabin functions. The cabins also feature 100 percent fresh air, the lowest cabin altitude in their class and 16 Gulfstream signature large oval windows. Passengers can conduct meetings, review presentations or just relax and get ready for their next opportunity.
What would you say all Gulfstream owners have in common?
All Gulfstream owners share an interest in having the best possible product in the business. They’re focused on the strategic value of business aviation, so they want their Gulfstream aircraft to be safe, reliable and technologically advanced. Gulfstream owners are also very generous, giving freely of their time to help us create and deliver the world’s finest aviation experience. They do that by participating in our Customer Advisory Board as well as our Advanced Technology Customer Advisory Team, providing feedback that helps us enhance our current offerings and guide the next generation of Gulfstream aircraft. Working with us, they help ensure that the Gulfstream tradition of innovation, excellence and performance continues.
Tell us about the technology employed and support granted to owners of a Gulfstream Jet & how does this service differ from standard Business Aviation Manufacturers?
Gulfstream continues to maintain the largest company‐owned product support network in business aviation, with more than 4,500 professionals. No other business jet manufacturer offers a wider range of services, enhancements, spares, support functions and technical publications than Gulfstream.
Gulfstream Product Support operates a 24‐hour‐per‐day/365‐day‐a‐year Customer Contact Center, a repair center exclusively for components, and 11 company‐owned service centers worldwide with a combined area of more than 5 million square feet. In concert with business‐aviation services companiessuch as Jet Aviation and ExecuJet, Gulfstream has more than 20 factory‐authorized service centers and authorized warranty facilities on six continents.
Gulfstream also has more than $1.6 billion worth of parts and materials available through distribution points around the world. Its team of more than 50 field service representatives provides technical support to operators and serves as their liaison to Gulfstream at strategic locations worldwide.
Gulfstream Field and Airborne Support Teams (FAST) include dedicated technicians, dedicated flight crews and a manager based at Gulfstream Savannah. In the last year, the technicians, who travel on dedicated Gulfstream G150 aircraft, have made more than 300 missions to deliver parts and/or people to Gulfstream operators within North America, Central America and the Caribbean. In Europe, the Middle East and Asia, FAST includes dedicated maintenance engineers. FAST also has rapid‐response vehicles throughout the U.S. and in Europe.
In terms of technology, I would point to Gulfstream’s innovative PlaneConnect system, an onboard, in‐ flight computer program that monitors aircraft systems and emails maintenance information to operators’ technicians. PlaneConnect also provides the option of including Gulfstream Technical Operations in the in‐flight email notifications. If Technical Operations has been provided access to the aircraft’s position information, notification is sent to parts centers located near the aircraft’s destination. Parts are shipped only on owner or operator approval.
In the G650 and the G650ER, computer monitoring goes a step further with Health and Trend Monitoring (HTM). With PlaneConnect HTM, failures are reported on occurrence, allowing support personnel and decision makers to initiate the troubleshooting and resource placement immediately. With the long legs of the G650 and Gulfstream’s worldwide support presence, we have created the ability to have field service personnel, parts or equipment in place at the aircraft destination, significantly reducing the time it takes to return the aircraft to service. Additionally, the system provides authorized OEM support personnel with the ability to “reach into” the aircraft to retrieve snapshot data related to the communicated failure event. Simply put, the ability to be notified of events as they occur provides not only an advanced support effort to be initiated, but it also allows OEM flight and safety personnel to evaluate the failure’s relationship to other, possibly progressively severe, failures as well.
Gulfstream Product Support is the biggest organization of its kind.