The Gulfstream business jet unit of General Dynamics announced a new low- and high-end model to both update and expand its existing product line. The $71.5 million G800 is now the flagship of the fleet , replacing the current top-of-the-line G650ER. The smaller G400 will be additive to the product portfolio, offering a $34.5 million entry point into the U.S.-made family. The $24.5 million entry-level G280, built by Israel Aerospace Industries but branded, marketed and supported by Gulfstream, still remains for now. A manufacturer in this category of aircraft can minimize its own product sales cannibalization by maintaining at least a $10M price delta between them.
There is now a higher degree of parts and systems commonality amongst the family, which now includes the G400, G500, G600, G700 and G800, clearing the path towards lower production costs and higher margins in the future. Each model is a step up in cabin size, range and ultimately price, establishing a fresh product line that will serve the company well into the foreseeable future.
Amongst the competitors in the rarified luxo-barge category, the G800 shares the stage with the Dassault Falcon Jet 10X and the Bombardier Global Express G7500. The G800 has the smaller passenger cabin of the three commanding a price around $3 million below the others.
At 8000 nautical miles the G800 has the most range which trumps the Falcon 10X by 500 miles and G7500 by 300 miles. It would be difficult to gauge if the range advantage would ever be useful in day-to-day operations, although pilots would be glad to know it’s there if and when they ever needed it. If required, Bombardier could match the G800’s range with its discussed but not yet launched G8000, which would only require a modification to the existing G7500.
The company insists that despite the G800 “We will continue to build G650ERs for as long as there is customer demand”, a worn out tactic used by aircraft manufacturers in an attempt not to discourage buyers from purchasing a soon to be discontinued product.
The G400 is aimed squarely at the Bombardier Challenger 650 and Dassault Falcon 2000 series. The CL650 is likely out of tricks to remain competitive without substantial investment, since its wings, avionics and engines have already been incrementally improved over time. Falcon could conceivably respond with a future, smaller version of its 6X model which is currently under development.
With the biggest private aviation trade show (NBAA-BACE) just a week away, releasing the news early allows for attendee pre-chatter while giving business periodicals and trade magazines more time to publish articles. This stunt arguably garners more PR mileage than traditional surprise announcements at a convention. Creative marketing aside, the company has set itself up to capitalize on the growing interest in private jet travel.