The Gulfstream G650 is the most incredible, extravagant aircraft every designed specifically for the corporate jet market. In 2014 it was awarded the Collier Trophy in recognition of having “strengthened business aviation through significant technological advancements in aircraft performance, cabin comfort, and safety.” Owners, operators and critics alike love the plane.
A big reason for the boost in performance is the extensively re-designed wing. Some of the improvements in the wing design are almost impossible to see. The airfoil, or shape of the wing, morphs continuously along the whole length of the plane’s 99’ 7” wingspan. The always-changing curvature of the leading edge was developed from over 1,400 hours of wind tunnel testing. Interestingly, the wing has no leading-edge devices or vortex generators.
The G650 is only the second business jet to employ fly-by-wire controls meaning no mechanical controls connect the pilot to the flight control surfaces. Instead, dual hydraulic systems translate electronic signals into physical movement. The pilots are surrounded by no less than 13 large touch-screen displays to assist with everything from checklist usage to system monitoring. Gulfstream claims the cockpit “ushers in a new era in cockpit design, integration, functionality, ergonomics and aesthetics.”
This meticulous approach to the plane’s design produce astounding results. Performance numbers include a top speed of 0.925 Mach, a service ceiling of 51,000 feet, and a range of over 7,500 nautical miles (on the extended range variant). For reference, 7,500 nautical miles will take you from Hong Kong to Newark, NJ or from Los Angeles, CA to Melbourne, Australia, or from San Antonio to New Delhi. In addition to the impressive performance, the plane is capable of accessing relatively small, non-hub, airports.
Initial deliveries commenced in late 2012. Since then, 300 units have been delivered. The base price tag is a staggering $64.5 million. Buyers looking to skip the three-year waiting list are spending over $70 million.
The G650 is typically outfitted with 11 – 18 seats with a variety of frills such as a bedroom, shower, full bar and kitchen, satellite telephones, and wireless internet. While the passengers relax, the pilots are also pretty comfortable.
Gulfstream G650 Interior
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) estimates the variable cost of the G650 to be over $4,800 per hour. By the time you add in fixed costs and a small margin, you’ll pay over $10,000 per hour to charter the plane. Keep the G650 in mind the next time you want to fly to Sydney or Cairo. But when your travel needs are within North America, your best option remains the fleet at Merlin One.