Gulfstream’s next available slot for its flagship ultra-long range G650 business jet is almost four years away, according to the airframer’s parent company.
Speaking on a fourth-quarter earnings call on 20 January, Phebe Novakovic, chairman and chief executive of General Dynamics, said the backlog for the aircraft is so extensive that the next available production slot is “in the 45 month range”.
The backlog for the smaller products in its catalogue – the super-midsize G280 and large-cabin G450 and G550 – is also high, with manufacturing availability around nine to 12 months out.
The company anticipates deliveries of 118 large-cabin jets next year, and 40 of the G280s, Novakovic says. That figure would represent a slight rise on 2013, when it handed over 110 large-cabin jets and 29 medium-size aircraft.
Gulfstream has considered increasing production of the G650, but rejected this based on supply chain considerations, noting that “we're very comfortable where we are now”.
“So, when you're manufacturing complex platforms with a robust and diversified supply chain, you want to be very mindful of what your supply chain can handle without driving up their cost, which then [is] reflected in your price,” says Novakovic.
Long-term demand for the jet remains strong, but any “perturbation from a break in your supply chain is very, very difficult to recover from”, she notes.
Gulfstream remains "the primary growth engine for both earnings and revenue" at General Dynamics, notes Novakovic.
Revenue at its aerospace division in 2013 rose to $8.1 billion, up from $6.9 billion the year before. Operating profit was $1.41 billion, an increase on 2012's figure of $858 billion.