Following weeks of speculation, Gulfstream confirmed yesterday that it is to build a new large-cabin mid-range aircraft to replace the G300 and bridge the gap between the G200 and G450.

A variant of the G450, introduced at NBAA last year, the development and certification process of the G350 will be tied to that of the G450. The G350 should be certified in the fourth quarter and Gulfstream says customer deliveries will begin in third-quarter 2005.

The two aircraft have the same dimensions and have common flight control systems, engines and cabin area and baggage space. Like the G450, the new aircraft will feature the advanced PlaneView flight deck, Honeywell Primus Epic avionics, upgraded electrical power and environmental control systems.

Because the cockpits are virtually identical, the G350 pilot rating will be the same as that of the G450.

With the PlaneView flightdeck now standard from the G350 to the G550, the Savannah, Georgia-based manufacturer is simplifying life for those operators with mixed fleets.

What is different is the price. The G450 costs around $33 million. With less range - 7,042km (3,800nm) versus the G450's 8,061km - and without the premium standard features such as Enhanced Vision System and the Honeywell HUD, in-cabin electronic and communication systems, the G350 costs $5.5 million less.

Gulfstream president Bryan Moss.says the $27.5 million package is a "value proposition" that can compete directly with the Bombardier Challenger 604 and the Dassault Falcon 200EX.

Moss, battling against the engine noise of practicing flying display participants, made the case for the aircraft. "With its competitive price and performance points, we are confident the G350 will appeal to business jet customers, especially those who may not have considered a Gulfstream in their business case," he said.

"When you look at the entire aircraft - its range, performance, number of standard features, product support and price - the G350 offers exceptional value."

Some of the cost savings are derived from the standardising of cabin layouts. Gulfstream will offer six options ranging from 8-16 passengers in the 40ft cabin. It can accommodate up to five berths. All layouts will feature a full size galley.

Other selling points, says Moss, include lower-altitude cabin pressure than the competition and low noise which along with 12 heated signature oval windows enhance passenger comfort.

For operators, full authority digital engine control (FADEC) Rolls-Royce Tay 611-8C engines with a time between overhauls (TBO) of 12,000h make it an attractive proposition.

The aircraft's range would allow it to fly non-stop from Singapore to Beijing, Mumbai, Dehli and Sydney.

MARK HANNANT

Source: Flight Daily News