Manufacturer rumoured to be cooking up G550 variant

Evidence is growing that Gulfstream is working on a larger-cabin, longer-range derivative of the G550, with industry sources at last week's National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) show saying a derivative of Rolls-Royce's BR710 has been selected to power the aircraft, variously described as the G600, G6000 and "Fat 5" - a reference to the baseline GV.

Gulfstream denies any knowledge of a "G6000", but acknowledges it is working in several areas and talking to several companies. Meanwhile, the chief executive of parent company General Dynamics, Nick Chabraja, has told analysts that a new factory being built at Gulfstream "will begin operating in late 2008 or early 2009, with its first mission to build a prototype for a next-generation aircraft".

A notional future product development chart revealed by Gulfstream at NBAA showed in vague terms an aircraft following the G500/G550 around 2009 and fitting above its current large-cabin, long-range aircraft. Industry sources say the company is working on a widebody with a 13,300km (7,200nm) range, compared with the G550's 12,500km at Mach 0.8.

A larger cabin and longer range would step up competition with Bombardier's Global Express and nar­row the gap between Gulf­stream's top-end aircraft and airliner-derived business jets.

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R-R is believed to have been working with Gulfstream on the project since before mid-2005. The selected engine is thought to be a derivative of the BR710 with a larger diameter fan and hot-section improvements to generate 16,000-17,000lb thrust (71-75kN). The BR710 powers the G500/G550 and at its highest thrust rating produces 15,385lb for the G550.

The engine's 1.2m (48in) fan diameter is expected to increase to around 1.32m, and incorporate compressor improvements from the International Aero Engines V2500 Select development. The fan diameter of the 18,500-23,800lb-thrust BR715 powering the discontinued Boeing 717 is 1.47m.

R-R, which has powered all large-cabin Gulfstreams, says: "We are in constant dialogue with Gulfstream regarding what future engine requirements there may be with new applications or technology enhancements to our current engines that provide power to Gulfstream business jets."

Source: Flight International