The news this week that Pratt & Whitney Canada has received certification for the engines that will power Gulfstream’s new G500 and G600 business jets has naturally turned attention to the long-range, large-cabin market sector those two aircraft will be contesting.
Indeed, for business jet makers that top end of the market, largely unscathed by the financial downturn, is where the action really is today. Market figures from Flightglobal’s Ascend consultancy show this sector, starting at about $30 million, represented 69% of the $18.5 billion business jet delivery value in 2013.
Ascend expects the popularity of these top-end aircraft to continue for the next 10 years, as a wave of new designs enter the market. In its latest forecast it predicts nearly 10,000 business jets from across the spectrum will be delivered between 2013 and 2023, with a total delivery value of $258 billion. Of this, the large-cabin/long range/VIP airliner segment is predicted to account for around 60% of the value share.
So, this week we look at the top ten (actually 11) contenders for the long-range crown. All range figures are for cruise at Mach 0.85 except where indicated, and programmes marked (d) are still in development.
1. Bombardier Global 8000 (d): 7,900nm, $68.7 million
Canadian standard-bearer Bombardier forecasts demand for 5,250 aircraft in the $50-75 million category between 2014 and 2033. Understandably then it has looked beyond its current flagship, the Global 6000, with the launch in 2010 of the bigger, longer-range 7000 (number 3, below) and 8000. Both aircraft will be powered by General Electric’s 16,500lb-thrust (73kN) Passport 20 engine and feature an all-new, high-speed transonic wing. The 8000 is targeted for entry into service in 2017.
Global 8000, artist's impression
2. Gulfstream G650ER: 7,500nm, $66.5 million
Gulfstream delivered its first all-new ultra-long-range G650ER business jet to a private owner in December 2014, making it currently the longest-legged in-production business jet. Its 500nm advantage over the standard G650 comes from an extra 1,810kg (4,000lb) of fuel carried in the wings and a software update to manage the added performance.
3. Bombardier Global 7000 (d): 7,300nm, $72.5 million
The Global 7000’s 74.9m3 (2,650ft3) cabin will be 20% bigger than the existing Global 6000 and have about the same interior volume premium over its longer-range sister, the 8000. Bombardier has given no indication of when the Global 7000’s flight test campaign will begin, but says it remains on track for certification in 2016.
4. Gulfstream G650: 7,000nm, $64.5 million
Until the ER version (number 2, pictured) took to the air, the G650 was the business jet world’s long-range champion. Envious owners can hire Gulfstream to do an ER retrofit for $2 million.
5. Gulfstream G550: 6,750nm, $60 million
Long-running speculation that Gulfstream was to replace this decade-old model, and the smaller G450, with an all-new aircraft codenamed “P42” proved wide of the mark. Last October, Gulfstream pulled a stunner and unveiled its G500 and G600 (number 7, below) models, which sit, range-wise, in between the two. Gulfstream says it plans to keep G550 and G450 in production for now.
6. Dassault Falcon 8X (d): 6,450nm (M0.8), $57 million
For several years, Dassault kept very quiet about work on the “SMS” project – a mystery assumed to be a super-midsize response to Gulfstream’s G550 or G650. In the end, the 2013 NBAA show saw the launch of the Falcon 5X (number 10, below). But Falcon wasn’t finished: its surprise for last year’s EBACE gathering in Geneva was the 8X, a stretched and enhanced variant of its flagship 7X trijet. More range, bigger cabin, extra extras and on time; flight tests commenced in February 2014 and certification is expected in mid-2016.
7. Gulfstream G600 (d): 6,200nm, $54.5 million
In both range and cabin size, the G600 and G500 models launched in October 2014 sit below Gulfstream’s existing G550, but they match its top speed of Mach 0.925, second only to the much smaller Cessna Citation X+. First flight of the smaller, 5,200nm G500 is expected this year.
8. Bombardier Global 6000: 6,000nm, $62 million
These are interesting times for Bombardier. The CSeries airliner programme is costing more than the company appears able to bear, and its recent axing of the Learjet 85 midsize programme looks like a bid to keep enough cash aimed at the in-development Global 7000 and 8000, where the profit potential looks much greater. Meanwhile, competitive pressure from Dassault (5X, 8X) and Gulfstream (G500, G600) make the Global 6000 look due – if not overdue – for a facelift at least.
9. Dassault Falcon 7X: 5,950nm (M0.8), $52.8 million
If numbers talk, 7X speaks loud and clear: “250”, as in deliveries. For raw range appeal it can’t match all comers, but Dassault argues that superlative short-field and short-hop performance translates into real-world range and flexibility that’s hard to beat. Customers seem to agree.
10= Dassault Falcon 5X (d): 5,200nm, $45 million
With the clean-sheet 5X, Dassault may prove that it really does know its market. In its cabin – bigger than the G650’s – the company promises that even tall American CEOs will be able to stand in comfort.
10= Bombardier Global 5000: 5,200nm, $50.2 million
Like its bigger sister the Global 6000, Bombardier’s 5000 offers range and comfort – but it may need some updating in an increasingly crowded market.