Gulfstream is hoping that deliveries of its G700 can begin in the current quarter after slower than anticipated certification of the ultra-long-range business jet by the Federal Aviation Administration caused revenue and profit to fall below expectations for 2023.
US type approval for the Rolls-Royce Pearl 700-powered G700 was anticipated in the fourth quarter, enabling 15 deliveries by year end. However, that did not happen, causing Gulfstream’s parent General Dynamics to miss out on around $1 billion in revenue and $250 million in earnings for the three-month period.
Speaking to analysts on a full-year earnings call on 24 January, Phebe Novakovic, chief executive of General Dynamics, said Gulfstream has told the first customers for the jet to “schedule their pre-delivery inspections contemplating delivery this quarter”.
The majority of certification activity is now complete, she says, and “almost all” the paperwork submitted.
Gulfstream expects to deliver 50 G700s this year, a large proportion of the 160 jets it expects to hand over in 2024.
If it achieves the target, the airframer will have significantly increased output over 2023, when it shipped 111 aircraft. And, says Novakovic, she expects delivery totals to continue increasing in 2025 and 2026.
Shipments of the G280 are likely to fall this year, however, due to the Gaza conflict disrupting production at key supplier Israel Aerospace Industries.
Novakovic declines to say if the airframer is planning for deliveries of its new flagship, the G800, this year, with that jet still going through the certification process.
Making such forecasts is “kind of like sticking your fingers in a light socket to predict a process that we just don’t control”, she says.
Supply chain weakness eased through the course of 2023, allowing Gulfstream to increase production in the latter half of the year – shipping 39 aircraft in the final quarter of the year, up from 24-25 jets per quarter previously.
“That makes us pretty optimistic that we can continue to increase production, but we are cautious about the ability of the supply chain to keep up.
“All indicators are that they’re doing quite well, but this is one step at a time and there’s more risk. As I say, we’re optimistic, but we’ve got a ways to go.”
Full-year revenues at General Dynamics aerospace division – which also includes completions and maintenance specialist Jet Aviation – were $8.62 billion in 2023, with operating profit of $1.18 billion. These compare to respective figures of $8.5 billion and $1.13 billion in 2022.