The Gulfstream G550 has earned many admirers, whether by winning the prestigious Robert J. Collier Trophy or by being named by owners as the best-in-value business aircraft. What’s behind the success?
All business aviation, regardless of manufacturer, traces its roots to Gulfstream.
Roy Grumman, co-founder of Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation, proposed the development of a purpose-built business aircraft at World War II’s end. He envisioned leveraging the company’s expertise from building robust Grumman warplanes to create scaled-down airliners that could facilitate the post-war economic boom. Thirteen years later, Grumman introduced the Gulfstream I, an aircraft that revolutionized general aviation and positioned the company as an industry high-flyer charting a course for all others to follow.
Gulfstream Flight Milestones
Gulfstream aircraft have grown their reputation for excellence in the decades since. A focus on innovation and a commitment to customer service are reflected in a history of industry firsts, record-setting aircraft, technological innovation, global service and support initiatives, and an expanding worldwide customer base. At Gulfstream, our history defines our future.
GI First Flight
August 14, 1958 - Gulfstream GI makes first flight
The Gulfstream I introduced the world to the purpose-built business aircraft. The aircraft featured turboprop engines mounted atop low wings. The GI flew up to Mach 0.53 at 33,600 feet/10,241 meters with a range of 2,540 nautical miles/4,704 kilometers. The cabin accommodated up to 12 passengers when configured as a business aircraft. The GI first flew on August 14, 1958, and entered service in 1959. During an 11-year production run, Gulfstream produced more than 200 Gulfstream I aircraft, many of which are still in service today.
GII First Flight/GII First To Cross Atlantic
October 2, 1966 - Gulfstream GII makes first flight
May 4, 1968 - Gulfstream GII becomes first business jet to cross Atlantic Ocean nonstop
The Gulfstream GII gave the business flyer the ability to cross North America or the Atlantic Ocean nonstop. Design efforts began in 1960 with engineers striving to create a jet-powered Gulfstream. The jet engines were mounted on the rear of the fuselage and the tail modified in a T configuration. The wings were swept back to increase range and altitude. The aircraft flew up to Mach 0.88 at 45,000 feet/13,761 meters with a range of 3,680 nautical miles/6,815 kilometers. The cabin could accommodate up to 19 passengers in a business jet configuration. The GII became the first business jet to fly nonstop from the United States to Europe on May 4, 1968. More than 250 GIIs sold during the aircraft’s production run including two variants, one with wing-tip tanks to increase range and the other with a new wing and winglets to enhance performance.
September 29, 1967 - Gulfstream production shifts to Savannah, Georgia, facility
Grumman moved its Gulfstream operations to Savannah, Georgia, in 1967 to split its aircraft manufacturing business into military and civilian divisions and improve efficiency. Officials cited labor supply, land availability, transportation facilities and favorable weather conditions for choosing Savannah as Gulfstream’s permanent home.
NASA Shuttle Trainers
1973 - NASA purchases two Gulfstream GIIs as space shuttle trainers
NASA began training space shuttle crews in the Gulfstream GII. Grumman modified the aircraft to simulate space shuttle flight characteristics during its landing sequence by adding in-flight thrust reversers, direct-lift flaps and side-force generators to the exterior and by redesigning the left side of the cockpit to mimic the shuttle’s flight deck.
GIII First Flight/GIII Both Poles
December 2, 1979 - Gulfstream GIII makes first flight
November 1983 - Gulfstream GIII becomes first business jet to fly over both poles
The Gulfstream GIII stretched the limits of its predecessor, the Gulfstream GII. The GIII could travel 3,760 nautical miles/6,964 kilometers and a new wing design plus the addition of winglets resulted in a 23 percent improvement in fuel efficiency. The GIII first flew on December 2, 1979, and entered service in late 1980. More than 200 GIIIs were sold between 1980 and 1986.
GIV First Flight
September 19, 1985 - Gulfstream GIV makes first flight
The Gulfstream GIV revolutionized business aviation with its intercontinental range and advanced cockpit and cabin technology. Cutting-edge engines combined with a large yet light wing gave the GIV a 4,300-nautical-mile/7,964-kilometer range and a Mach 0.88 cruising speed. The GIV’s cockpit was the first in civil aviation to feature digital flight management computers, increasing fuel efficiency while reducing pilot workload. The cabin included satellite communications for the first time. The GIV first flew on September 19, 1985, and entered into service in August 1987. Gulfstream produced an updated version, the Gulfstream GIV-SP, beginning in 1993. More than 500 GIV and GIV-SPs sold.
February 25, 1995 - Gulfstream opens first Integration Test Facility
Gulfstream built an Integration Test Facility for the Gulfstream GV. The ITF included a mock-up of a GV’s cockpit that allowed for testing of avionics and other electronic systems as well as human-factors analysis while the aircraft was in development. Gulfstream later created similar ITFs for the Gulfstream G280, the Gulfstream G450, the Gulfstream G550 and the Gulfstream G650.
GV First Flight/GV Collier Trophy
November 28, 1995 - Gulfstream GV makes first flight
May 1997 - Gulfstream GV wins prestigious Robert J. Collier Trophy for advanced design and manufacturing techniques
The Gulfstream GV introduced the ultra-long-range jet to business aviation. The GV flew up to Mach 0.90 and at altitudes of 51,000 feet/15,545 meters and covered 6,500 nautical miles/12,038 kilometers, or enough to fly nonstop from New York to Tokyo. Gulfstream debuted its head-up display in the GV’s cockpit and wired the cabin as a complete computerized office. The GV typically accommodated four crew members and 14 passengers in an executive configuration. The GV first flew on November 28, 1995, and entered into service in June 1997. More than 190 GVs were delivered.
General Dynamics Purchase
July 30, 1999 - General Dynamics acquires Gulfstream Aerospace
Defense giant General Dynamics purchased Gulfstream Aerospace for US$5.3 billion in 1999. The corporation previously owned another aircraft manufacturer and had also produced F-16 fighters for the U.S. military. General Dynamics made research and development a priority.
May 1, 2001 - Gulfstream acquires Galaxy Aerospace and rebrands Galaxy’s midsize aircraft as G100 and G200
Gulfstream added midsize aircraft to its fleet by purchasing Galaxy Aerospace. Gulfstream upgraded Galaxy’s two midsize business aircraft, the Galaxy and Astra SPX, and rebranded them the Gulfstream G200 and Gulfstream G100, respectively. The jets featured cross-continent range and offered wide-cabin comfort.
APS Service Program/FAST Program
May 7, 2002 - Gulfstream launches Airborne Product Support service program
May 16, 2011 - Gulfstream introduces Field and Airborne Support Teams (FAST)
The Airborne Product Support program set a new standard for aviation customer service. Gulfstream converted a Gulfstream G100 into a parts-and-repair aircraft to transport service technicians to repair aircraft under warranty anywhere in North America or the Caribbean. The service later grew to include Central America. Gulfstream added mobile service worldwide in 2011 with the introduction of the Field and Airborne Support Teams, or FAST. FAST technicians provide service via aircraft, train, automobile or van.
G550 First Flight
July 18, 2002 - Gulfstream G550 makes first flight
The Gulfstream G550 revolutionized the pilot experience in business aviation. The aircraft featured the new PlaneView cockpit. PlaneView integrated several avionics features, including an infrared camera that revealed terrain and runway lights in low-visibility conditions, known as an Enhanced Vision System. The G550 was so technologically advanced, the aircraft won the 2003 Robert J. Collier Trophy, the North America aerospace industry’s most prestigious award for technological achievement. The G550 also stretched the reach of ultralong-range business travel, linking cities around the world, such as Seoul and Orlando, Florida; Washington D.C. and Dubai; and Tokyo and Paris. The G550 accommodates four crew members and up to 18 passengers. The G550 first flew on July 18, 2002, and entered into service in 2003.
G450 First Flight/G450 Biofuels
April 30, 2003 - Gulfstream G450 makes first flight
June 22, 2011 - Gulfstream G450 becomes first business jet to cross Atlantic Ocean using biofuels
The Gulfstream G450 incorporated the Gulfstream G550’s technological advances into the popular Gulfstream GIV airframe. Gulfstream integrated the PlaneView cockpit into the aircraft and redesigned the wing to reduce drag and allow for greater fuel capacity. The G450 seats 12 to 16 passengers depending on the executive configuration. The G450 first flew on April 30, 2003, and entered service in May 2005.
G150 First Flight
May 3, 2005 - Gulfstream G150 makes first flight
The Gulfstream G150 redefined comfort and efficiency in midsize jets. The six to eight-passenger aircraft boasts a wide cabin, class-leading speed and fuel efficiency, and cross-country range. The G150 covers 3,000 nautical miles/5,556 kilometers at Mach 0.75 with a top speed of Mach 0.85. The G150 first flew on May 3, 2005, and entered service in August 2006.
May 19, 2006 - Gulfstream opens Savannah Research and Development Center
Gulfstream Aerospace expanded its Savannah, Georgia, headquarters to include a Research and Development Center. The project was part of a US$400 million expansion plan. The RDC houses personnel from Engineering, Manufacturing, Planning, Product Support and Materials.
October 23, 2006 - Gulfstream’s Quiet Spike goes supersonic
The revolutionary Quiet Spike™ highlighted Gulfstream’s ongoing research into supersonic flight. The telescoping device fits on an aircraft’s nose and spreads the sonic boom shockwaves over the length of the 24-foot-long spike and the airframe surface to minimize the effects of breaking the sound barrier. NASA first flight-tested the Quiet Spike in 2006 as a proof of concept mounted on a modified F-15 fighter.
January 28, 2008 - Gulfstream debuts Synthetic Vision-Primary Flight Display system
The Synthetic Vision-Primary Flight Display system enhances safety by providing pilots an artificial view of the environment ahead. The SV-PFD takes data from ground proximity warning systems to produce three-dimensional, color images of terrain, obstacles, runways and approaches. Gulfstream announced plans for the SV-PFD in 2006 and introduced the system in 2008.
G650 First Flight/G650 Enters Service
November 25, 2009 - Gulfstream G650 makes first flight
December 2012 - Gulfstream G650 enters service as the world’s fastest business jet
The Gulfstream G650 debuted as the most advanced aircraft in business aviation. The aircraft can fly 7,000 nautical miles/12,964 kilometers via its 51,000-feet/15,545-meter cruising altitude and Mach 0.85 cruising speed. The G650 has a maximum operating speed of Mach 0.925. The G650’s cabin measures 2,138 cubic feet/60.54 cubic meters and is accented by 16 large panoramic windows. The G650 accommodates up to 18 passengers in as many as four distinct living areas. The G650 first flew on November 25, 2009, and entered service in December 2012 as the world’s fastest civilian aircraft.
G280 First Flight/G280 Enters Service
December 11, 2009 - Gulfstream G280 makes first flight
The Gulfstream G280 reset the standard for the super-midsize aircraft class. The G280 boasts intercontinental range and a cruise speed equal to long-range aircraft while burning up to 12 percent less fuel than its rivals. Cabin amenities include a cabin management tool and an in-flight accessible baggage compartment. Gulfstream incorporated the PlaneView cockpit into the G280 and equipped the aircraft with autobrake and autothrottle systems. The G280 seats eight to 10 passengers in executive configurations. The G280 first flew on December 12, 2009, and entered service in November 2012.
G650 Sets World Record
July 3, 2013 - Gulfstream G650 sets world record for westbound, around-the-world flight in 41 hours, 7 minutes
The Gulfstream G650 set the world speed record for a westbound circumnavigation at 41 hours, 7 minutes and also claimed 22 city-pair speed records en route. The 20,310-nautical-mile flight started and finished in San Diego, California, with stops in Guam, Dubai and Cape Verde. The G650 flew each leg at Mach 0.90, the aircraft’s standard high speed cruise.
May 19, 2014 - Gulfstream introduces G650ER
The Gulfstream G650ER extends the reach of nonstop business travel to 7,500 nautical miles/13,890 kilometers. Gulfstream’s flagship aircraft flew key city-pair connections, such as Hong Kong to Teterboro, New Jersey, and Los Angeles to Melbourne, Australia, prior to its unveiling. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2015.
All-New G500 And G600 Announced
October 14, 2014 - Gulfstream Introduces New Aircraft Family
The all-new Gulfstream G500 and Gulfstream G600 establish new class-leading benchmarks for optimized performance, cabin design and technology. The aircraft fly farther faster than other jets in their classes while providing the comfort of wide and stylish cabins. Gulfstream advanced the state-of-the-art in the G500 and G600 by introducing the Gulfstream Symmetry Flight Deck™ with touch-screen displays, active control sidesticks and Intelligence-by-Wire™ flight controls.
G650ER Enters Service
November 14, 2014 - Deliveries Of New Gulfstream Flagship Begin
The Gulfstream G650ER extends the reach of nonstop business travel to 7,500 nautical miles/13,890 kilometers. Gulfstream’s flagship aircraft flew key city-pair connections, such as Hong Kong to Teterboro, New Jersey, and Los Angeles to Melbourne, Australia, prior to its unveiling. The G650ER has a maximum operating speed of Mach 0.925 and the aircraft’s cabin accommodates up to 18 passengers in as many as four distinct living areas.
Learn about pioneering aircraft
The G650 makes once-distant cities all part of a day’s work, and with the lowest pressurized cabin altitude of any business aircraft, passengers arrive feeling refreshed and ready for whatever opportunities lay ahead.
Start the day early in New York, and be in Los Angeles for lunch. In the Gulfstream G150, a coast-to-coast trip is less than six hours nonstop at Mach 0.80.
Functionality is a mainstay of the Gulfstream G450. This is an aircraft that offers more payload, more cabin configurations and has a cockpit equipped with advanced guidance systems, some of which aren’t even available outside the Gulfstream fleet.