Gulfstream is developing a clean-sheet successor to its G450 and G550 large-cabin business jets, incorporating concepts and systems designed for its flagship G650.

Industry sources say Gulfstream is in the midst of selecting a next-generation engine, thought to be either Pratt & Whitney's PW800, General Electric's NG34 or an offering from Rolls-Royce.

Gulfstream has declined to comment on the project, but development of a new clean-sheet design for its large-cabin jets would be its third recent all-new design, after the super-midsize G250 and large-cabin ultra-long-range G650, which is undergoing flight-testing and is expected to be certificated in 2011 followed by first delivery in 2012.

A replacement for the G450 and G550 would compete directly with Dassault's Falcon 7X and 900LX, as well as Bombardier's Global Express XRS and 5000.

The G450 has a range of 8,050km (4,350nm) at Mach 0.88 with eight passengers and three crew aboard.

Production of the G450 and G550 has slowed in the past year as the global recession forced deferrals and cancellations of the company's large-cabin aircraft. Gulfstream expects to deliver 77 large-cabin G450s and G550s this year, up from 75 in 2009, but down from 2008, when the airframer delivered 87.

Some analysts believe the business jet market has reached the bottom of a sharp decline set off by the 2008 credit crisis and subsequent recession, so the initiation of new projects may represent a resurgence of industry confidence.

That decline in large-cabin aircraft, says one industry analyst, could be reversed with both a new model to stimulate demand, as well as the positively changing fortunes of the economy.

The G450 successor, expected to be the first of the two new jets launched by Gulfstream, joins Bombardier on a growing list of new large aircraft in development.

The Canadian airframer is rumoured to be in advanced development of a new ultra-long-range offering, codenamed the M170, to take on the G650.

Source: Flight International