From customer gripes about reliability issues with its Trent family of widebody engines to ongoing supply chain challenges and a new chief executive warning last year of a “last chance” to repair the company’s performance, Rolls-Royce has faced more than its share of problems since the Covid-19 pandemic shook its financial foundations.

However, one part of the empire that has held firm is business aviation. After several knockbacks for the UK propulsion giant earlier in the century, the business has rallied strongly in recent years with three important wins for its latest Pearl series: the revamped Bombardier Global 5500/6500, the Dassault Aviation Falcon 10X, and the Gulfstream G700 and G800.

Rolls-Royce 747 testbed with Pearl 10X

Source: Rolls-Royce

Pearl 10X is being tested on starboard wing of Rolls-Royce’s Boeing 747-200 flying testbed

The past few weeks have seen more encouraging news with the start of the flight-test campaign for the Pearl 10X – the variant that will power Dassault’s longest-range jet. Meanwhile, the Pearl 700-powered G700 was finally certificated by the US Federal Aviation Administration in late March after a two-year delay. The G700’s longer-range sister ship, the G800, is hot on its heels, with certification slated for later this year.

Rolls-Royce has been an important player in business aviation since the late 1950s – its Dart engines powering the Gulfstream I twin-turboprop, considered the first corporate aircraft. In 1993, it established its offshoot in Dahlewitz, near Berlin – initially as a joint venture with BMW. It became the company’s centre of excellence for business aviation engines, producing the BR710 and BR725.

Today, business aviation, including aftermarket activities, represents just over one-fifth of Rolls-Royce’s civil aerospace sales or around 10% of the group’s total £15.4 billion ($19.5 billion) revenues in 2023. Rolls-Royce claims market leadership in the segments in which it competes with more than 3,300 business jet engines in service worldwide.


The company began developing the Pearl family at Dahlewitz in the early 2010s. The engine is based on the BR700 family that powers several Gulfstream models, including the G650, and earlier versions of the Global series. However, the Pearl features a new core with technologies developed as part of the company’s Advance2 demonstrator project.

These Advance2 enhancements include a 10-stage high-pressure (HP) compressor with six titanium blisked stages and advanced materials designed to operate under higher temperatures and pressure ratios. The engine also includes a new two-stage HP turbine and three-stage low-pressure turbine.

Back in the early 2010s, four of the five big business aviation manufacturers – Bombardier, Dassault, Gulfstream and Textron Aviation – were investing in a new generation of large-cabin aircraft. Rolls-Royce was confident it could regain the initiative after losing the contest for the Global 7000 and Global 8000 – unveiled at the NBAA convention in 2010 – to the GE Aviation Passport, a scaled-down version of the Leap narrowbody engine developed for its CFM International joint venture with Safran.

Global 7500

Source: Bombardier

Bombardier chose GE’s Passport for its Global 7000 but stuck with Rolls-Royce for the 6500 and 5500

Despite this, the company faced an early disappointment, with Gulfstream choosing Pratt & Whitney Canada’s PW800 over its propulsion partner for over half a century for its 5,000nm (9,260km)-range G500 and 6,200nm-range G600, which the Savannah-based airframer introduced as a pair in October 2014.

With the Pearl waiting customer-less in the wings, Rolls-Royce was left powering a band of maturing Global and Gulfstream aircraft, including the Global 5000 and Global 6000 and the Gulfstream G550 and G650. Large in-service fleets of these types would certainly deliver strong, long-term returns for Rolls-Royce’s ever important aftermarket business, but the situation was less promising for future production prospects.

That all changed with the launch of the Global 5500 and Global 6500 in 2018. More than mere warm overs of the Global 5000 and Global 6000, the latest types had reprofiled wings to help stretch their range to 5,700nm and 6,600nm, respectively, as well as redesigned cabins. Importantly, their predecessors’ BR710 powerplants were replaced with the Pearl 15, the first application for the new engine family.

A year later, Rolls-Royce scored a second success, returning to the fold with Gulfstream when the airframer announced that another version of the engine, the Pearl 700, would power the new 7,500nm-range G700 flagship – launched on the eve of the 2019 NBAA convention in Las Vegas as Savannah’s retort to the Global 7500 (as the Global 7000 was now called to reflect its extended range).

Rolls-Royce claimed that the new powerplant offered an 8% increase in take-off thrust, a 12% better thrust-to-weight ratio, and 5% higher efficiency than the BR725 on the G650. Gulfstream also chose the Pearl 700 for the G700’s longer-distance sister, the 8,000nm-range G800, when that type was launched in October 2021.


A trio of large-cabin manufacturer wins was secured when Dassault unveiled the 7,500nm-range Falcon 10X in May 2021, powered by the latest and most powerful Pearl variant, the Pearl 10X. That engine, Rolls-Royce’s first application on a Falcon jet, began its flight-test campaign on 18 March this year – installed on the inboard starboard wing of Rolls-Royce’s Boeing 747-200 flying testbed.

Flight testing, based in Tucson, Arizona, will focus on engine performance and handling checks as well as in-flight re-lights, tests of the anti-icing system, and fan vibration tests at various altitudes. It follows ground tests of the additive-layer-manufactured combustor and new accessory gearbox.

747 with Pearl 10X

Source: Rolls-Royce

First flight with the Pearl 10X was performed from Waco, Texas

Rolls-Royce’s triumphs have come partly at the expense of GE Aerospace, which has had a quiet time on the programme front since winning the Global 7000 and original Global 8000 14 years ago. GE, however, remains on one in-development programme, after the Global 8000 was relaunched two years ago. The 8,000nm-range type is due to enter service in 2025 and will eventually replace the Global 7500.

GE also appears to have missed the chance to power Honda Aircraft’s new jet, the HondaJet Echelon. It comes after the North Carolina-based, Japanese-owned manufacturer opted for the Williams International FJ44-4C over a new version of the HF120 from joint venture GE Honda Aero Engines that powers the existing HA-420 HondaJet. Honda Aircraft has a certification goal of 2028.


Meanwhile, regulatory approval of the Catalyst turboprop engine, GE’s clean-sheet rival to the ubiquitous P&WC PT6 series developed by the US company’s subsidiaries in the Czech Republic and Italy, remains on ice until at least later this year. This forced launch customer Textron Aviation to last year delay the certification of the Beechcraft Denali turboprop single yet again, this time until 2025.

The biggest challenge GE and its CFM International partner Safran face on the commercial aviation front is ramping up production of the Leap engine for the Boeing 737 Max and Airbus A320neo family fast enough to meet demand. However, a return to the business aviation market for the French company seems a distant prospect after the failure of its Silvercrest engine to gain a foothold.

Safran announced the 9,000-12,000lb (40-53kN)-thrust class Silvercrest in 2006 with high hopes of securing customers in the large-cabin segment. After several years came two breakthroughs, with Dassault selecting the engine for its Falcon 5X and Textron Aviation for its 4,500nm-range Cessna Hemisphere. However, in 2017, the French airframer cancelled its 5X programme, blaming problems with the Silvercrest engine.

The Silvercrest’s fate was sealed when Textron froze development of the Hemisphere in 2019, again blaming the inability of the powerplant to achieve promised performance targets.

Safran’s loss on the 5X was P&WC’s gain, with Dassault selecting the PW800 for its 6X successor to add to the Canadian business’s wins on the Gulfstream G500 and G600. The 6X received US and European certification last August, giving P&WC its latest in-service application.

G500 and G600

Source: Gulfstream

Gulfstream opted for P&WC’s PW800 family for its G500 and G600 jets

P&WC added to its PW800 family tally the 4,200nm-range G400 – which has a number of commonalities with the larger G500 and G600 – when Gulfstream announced that aircraft in 2021. The large-cabin type is expected to enter service next year.

The RTX subsidiary has also had successes in the smaller-jet market, with its PW300 powering the midsize Citation Latitude since its entry into service in 2015. A new version of its PW545 – the PW545D – will power the Citation Ascend, the latest version of the Excel that is scheduled for service entry in 2025.

The last success on a new programme for Honeywell – which is the engine provider for types including the Gulfstream G280, Embraer’s Praetor 500, Praetor 600, and Phenom 300, and the Bombardier Challenger 350 – was the Citation Longitude, which entered service with its 7,665lb-thrust HTF7700L engines in 2019.


Williams International remains a leader in the light jet category with its FJ44 the incumbent on the Pilatus PC-24 and the Citation CJ3 and CJ4. The prospects for P&WC’s PW600 series in this segment diminished after the collapse of the very light jet phenomenon in the late noughties, although its PW617 powers Embraer’s smallest type, the Phenom 100.

However, it is Rolls-Royce’s wins in the growing ultra-long-range segment that has been the major success story in business aviation propulsion since 2018.

Pearl 10X

Source: Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce began developing the Pearl family in the early 2010s

With Pearl 700 deliveries to Gulfstream starting to ramp up, alongside those of the Pearl 15 to Bombardier, and first shipments of the Pearl 10X to Dassault likely in the next couple of years, the UK company is in a strong position as far as its production outlook is concerned. Its challenge then will be to maximise the aftermarket potential of all these new in-service engines.