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The business aircraft that changed the world: No. 3

If anyone doubts the sophistication of business aircraft technology, Gulfstream always seems to have the rebuttal.

Whether it was the $2 million asking price for the GII or NASA-derived aerodynamic improvements of the GIII wing, Gulfstream has driven the state of the art in the business aviation industry for as long as the brand has existed.

The development of the GIV raised even this standard a notch higher. With the launch of the fourth Gulfstream aircraft in 1983, the GIV set a new standard for business aviation with the introduction of a fully integrated flight management system.

Until the GIV, Gulfstream had operated like most business jet manufacturers and was content to allow its customers to choose bespoke avionics systems for installation by the completion centre.

The increasing demands of international air traffic control systems and the miniaturisation of electronics prompted Gulfstream to rethink this philosophy for the GIV.

Although not the first cockpit fitted with the pioneering Honeywell (then-Sperry) SPZ-8000, the GIV for its time provided the most complete application of the digital avionics system.

Linked together by way of a digital databus, the SPZ-8000 for the first time gave the flightcrew of a business aircraft a single interface to various subsystems. These included automatic flight and engine controls, navigation, sensors and displays.

In the decades since the GIV entered service, business jets have started to lean out in front of commercial airliners on avionics technology.

The GIV also introduced a high bypass turbofan - the Rolls-Royce Tay - on a Gulfstream for the first time, improving efficiency enough to boost range by more than 400nm (740km) compared with the GIII despite a heavier, stretched fuselage.

But the GIV is remembered best as a turning point in the technical sophistication of business aircraft. It was the moment when business aircraft became laboratories for new avionics, such as the synthetic and enhanced visions systems entering service in the past decade.

 ©AirTeam Images

 ©Cutaway Drawings: Tim Hall

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