The New G is Money: Gulfstream Launches G250 Aircraft

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Once upon a time there was a company named Grumman. Grumman made airplanes. Not just any ole kinda plane, but World War Two-era Wildcats and Hellcats for the United States Navy. The Hellcat, built specifically to counter the Japanese Zero, proved to be the most successful in naval history, taking out 5,171 aircraft (plus 52 with the Royal Navy). Eugene Valencia, one of the Navy’s top aces, quipped, “I love this airplane so much that if it could, I’d marry it.” It was so successful it allowed Grumman to grow up big and strong, so strong that it produced an offspring named Gulfstream Aerospace. Ever heard of it?

Of course you have. Because that “kid” grew into the legendary producer of some of the most coveted personal and corporate aircraft in the wild blue yonder. Although Gulfstream has seen its fortunes shift with changing times, economic policy, and new ownership, in many ways, the tale of these storied aircraft is remarkably consistent: Gulfstream has inspired decades of loyalty among its designers and manufacturers, which in turn has helped translate each evolution into a mystique among pilots, passengers, and admirers. And now, with the launch of the G250, its newest super mid-size biz jet, the fascination should only increase.

 The plane will be able to take off from 5,000-foot runways, and with an extra 2,810 pounds of thrust (compared with the G2), the G2.5 will climb to 41,000 feet in less than 20 minutes. 

The G250 program was internally launched in 2005 (as proof that the company cares about and listens to its clients, details were actually worked out with the input of customary advisory teams), spawning rampant rumors that were finally confirmed in October. On the eve of the NBAA Convention in Orlando, Gulfstream took the wraps off the bird, announcing that it should be certified in 2011, with expectations to begin customer delivery in the same year. With all wind tunnel testing already completed, the first flight of the aircraft is slated for the second half of 2009, and three aircraft will be involved in the test program.

So what can we look forward to from the $24 million derivative? Well, sit back, relax, and fasten your cufflinks. The G250 is a flowering improvement of the successful G200, with state-of-the-art tech, superior performance, and enhanced styling-it’ll offer the largest cabin and the longest range at the fastest speed in its class. Major features include a new-design transonic wing, 7,445-pound-thrust Honeywell engines, heated leading-edge anti-ice system (instead of de-icing boots on the G200), an eight-inch-longer cabin interior, enlarged baggage compartment, and PlaneView250 cockpit (Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion platform). According to Rockwell Collins, the G250 is the launch aircraft for this new, highly integrated avionics platform.

Preliminary performance numbers include a 3,400-nautical-mile range at Mach 0.80, a max speed of Mach 0.85, and a 45,000-foot ceiling. The plane will be able to take off from 5,000-foot runways, and with an extra 2,810 pounds of thrust (compared with the G2), the G2.5 will climb to 41,000 feet in less than 20 minutes.

The new wing is probably the most significant improvement on the G250, whereas the G2 shares a wing platform with the G100. That wing was adapted, not optimized, for the G2, and runway performance and range suffered as a result. The G200’s leading edge slatted wing also had the same boot de-ice system as the G1, a frequent complaint of operators who believed a $22 million super-mid deserved a heated anti-ice system. In fact, the issue was so sensitive for Gulfstream that it switched to silver-colored boots in an attempt to camouflage the system.

On the G250, the wish is granted-a wing optimized for high-speed cruise and improved takeoff performance, incorporating a bleed-air anti-ice system and big enough to hold all the fuel. Compared with its predecessor, the new wing has five feet more wingspan, sharper sweep, and a 23-percent improvement in aerodynamic efficiency. Thus, the G250’s takeoff distance is about 1,100 feet shorter than that of the G200.

 An added benefit is something that wasn’t possible on the G2: in-flight access to the baggage compartment.

While the G250 retains the same fuselage as the G2, as well as the same cabin cross-section dimensions, that’s pretty much where the similarities end. It’s eight inches longer and the baggage area is enlarged to 120 cubic feet, yet this wasn’t accomplished by stretching the fuselage-the fuselage fuel tank found in the G2 was simply removed. An added benefit is something that wasn’t possible on the G2: in-flight access to the baggage compartment.

The cabin of the newest Gulfstream will include “enhanced aesthetics” by incorporating window scallops, new-design end cabinets, a redesigned and larger galley, and a restyled lavatory complete with a vacuum toilet system. The standard cabin layout on the G2.5 is forward club seating with a half club divan in the rear, contrasting with the standard double-club layout on the G2.

Besides the new avionics system, the cockpit also includes two glareshield-mounted LCD multifunction controllers that can function as standby instruments, EFIS display controls, and remote displays, as well as all the other bells and whistles we’ve come to expect as standard or optional in a Gulfstream, like an intercontinental package. Other systems include a brake-by-wire system that features anti-skid, independent mechanical backup, and a brake temp monitor. In addition, the new jet will have auto braking, yet another feature that sets the G250 apart from others in its class. Now, if only Gulfstream could teach it to cook.

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