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The History of Gulfstream: 1958 - 2011
The company that evolved into Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. started in the late 1950s when Grumman Aircraft Engineering Co., a company known for military aircraft production, developed a marketable business aircraft at its manufacturing facilities in Bethpage, N.Y. Dubbed the Gulfstream I (GI), the turbo-prop aircraft was named after the Gulf Stream, the current that flows along the coast of Florida, which was a favored vacationing spot for Grumman executives. The GI could sit 12 passengers comfortably, had a maximum speed of 350 mph (563 kmph) at 25,000 feet (7,620 m) and a range of 2,200 miles (3,541 km). The newly developed aircraft, the first of its kind designed specifically for business travel, was a success in the business world, prompting Grumman to develop a jet-powered corporate aircraft called the Gulfstream II or GII.
At the start of the GII program, Grumman officials separated the company's civil and military aircraft production to improve efficiency. In 1966, they relocated the civilian component to Savannah, Ga. There they found the needed supply of skilled labor, an established airfield adjacent to the plant site and sufficient acreage for expansion. Transportation facilities suitable for heavy equipment and machinery as well as weather favorable to year-round flight-testing and flight-training operations further enhanced Savannah's appeal. The new building in Chatham County opened in June 1967 and was officially dedicated on Sept. 29, 1967. It housed production and flight testing for the GII. The 100-person work force that built the GII was 90 percent local and grew to more than 1,700 within a few years.
In 1972, Grumman merged with light-aircraft manufacturer American Aviation Corp. The 256th and final GII delivery took place in 1977. One year later, the Gulfstream line and the Savannah plant were sold to American Jet Industries, which was headed by little-known aviation entrepreneur Allen Paulson.
Paulson became the president and CEO of the company, renaming it Gulfstream American. He made a priority of developing the Gulfstream III, a new aircraft designed to achieve greater range and speed than the GII. The GIII made its first flight in December 1979, with the first delivery of the aircraft occurring in 1980. It was the first business jet to fly over both poles.
Gulfstream Takes Flight - The ‘80s
In 1981, Gulfstream introduced the Gulfstream GIIB. The GIIB had a modified GII fuselage and the GIII wings, complete with winglets. The variant offered weight and performance characteristics similar to the GIII, but with the shorter GII fuselage. Gulfstream completed and delivered approximately 40 GIIBs.
Under Paulson's leadership, the Savannah work force grew to 2,500 employees by the spring of 1982. Also in this year, the company's name changed to Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. to reflect its worldwide scope, and a new plane, the Gulfstream IV, was conceived. The following year, Gulfstream offered a total of 8.8 million shares of its stock to the public. In 1985, Chrysler Corp. acquired Gulfstream as part of the automaker's plan to diversify and move into high-tech industries. This was also the year that Gulfstream first appeared on the Fortune 500 list, at No. 417. Two years later, the 200th and last Gulfstream III produced was delivered, and the first delivery of a Gulfstream IV took place. The GIV was the first jet in business aviation to have an all-glass cockpit. In 1989, when Chrysler decided to sell Gulfstream, Paulson teamed up with Forstmann Little & Co. – a private equity firm specializing in leveraged buyouts – and bought Gulfstream back.
The decade that followed the 1989 repurchase was a time of significant advancements for Gulfstream. The company signed a five-year contract with NetJets in 1994. It completed the Gulfstream V Integration Test Facility and rolled out the GV – the first ultra-long range business jet – in 1995. The opening of a $16 million Savannah service center with 136,000 square feet (12,635 sq m) of hangar space followed in 1996. In 1997, Gulfstream began the simultaneous manufacture of two different aircraft models – the GIV-SP and the GV. Within a few months of the GV's first delivery in June 1997, it set nearly 40 city-pair and/or speed and distance records, and its development team was awarded the 1997 Robert J. Collier Trophy, the highest honor in aeronautics or astronautics in North America.
Gulfstream: A General Dynamics Company – The New Millennium
At the end of the 1990s, General Dynamics, a giant in the defense industry, purchased Gulfstream. The company focused on enhancing product performance and lowering costs. It opened a $5.5 million aircraft refurbishment and completions support facility in Savannah in 2000. In 2001, it acquired Galaxy Aerospace and with it, the mid-size Astra SPX and super mid-size Galaxy, which were later rebranded the G100 and G200, respectively. Also in 2001, Gulfstream purchased four U.S. maintenance facilities in Dallas; Las Vegas; Minneapolis; and West Palm Beach, Fla. Those service centers, along with a Gulfstream facility in Westfield, Mass., formed General Dynamics Aviation Services, which maintained and repaired Gulfstream and other business-jet aircraft.
In 2002, Gulfstream renamed its products, using Arabic numerals instead of Roman numerals to differentiate its aircraft. At the time, the company's heavy-hitting lineup included the ultra long-range G550 and G500, the long-range G400, the mid-range G300 and G200, and the high-speed G100. 2002 was also the year that Gulfstream introduced its Airborne Product Support aircraft, a specially equipped G100. It is used to deliver parts and provide any-time service to Gulfstream customers in North America and the Caribbean who are operating aircraft under warranty. In 2003, Gulfstream acquired a service center at the London-Luton Airport, the first Gulfstream-owned service center to be operated outside the United States. Also, in 2003, the long-range G450 was introduced. The large-cabin, mid-range G350 was presented a year later. In 2004, Gulfstream was awarded the 2003 Collier Trophy for the development of the G550. It was the second time in less than a decade that Gulfstream had won the award. The G550 is the first civil aircraft to receive a Type Certificate issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that includes an Enhanced Vision System (EVS) as standard equipment on an aircraft. The aircraft also contained the first cockpit to incorporate PlaneView®, an integrated avionics suite featuring four 14-inch (36 cm) liquid crystal displays in landscape format.
A Leader in Innovation
In 2004, Gulfstream became the first business-jet manufacturer to offer an in-flight, ultra-high-speed Internet connection – its Broad Band Multi-Link (BBML) system. Gulfstream was also the first to design and develop a means of reducing the sonic boom caused by an aircraft "breaking" the sound barrier – the Quiet Spike. The Quiet Spike is a telescopic nose device that softens the effect of the sonic boom by smoothing the pressure wave created by flying at the speed of sound.
In 2006, the 22-year production run of the G100 ended, and the G150 entered service to take its place. The G150 was the first business jet to be certified by the FAA for Stage 4, the industry's most stringent noise standards. Also in 2006, Gulfstream announced plans to expand its manufacturing and service facilities in Savannah. The seven-year, $400 million Long-Range Facilities Master Plan included the creation of a new 624,588-square-foot (58,026 sq m) service center, an independent fuel farm, a 42,600-square-foot (3,958 sq m), state-of-the-art paint hangar and the addition of a new Sales and Design Center. As a result of the expansion, employment at the facility was expected to grow by some 1,100 jobs. To meet the immediate need for engineering office space, Gulfstream opened a Research and Development Center (RDC). The RDC accommodates approximately 750 technical and engineering employees.
The year 2007 also saw its share of major breakthroughs. In April, Gulfstream broke ground for a new business-jet manufacturing building at its headquarters in Savannah. The following month, the company signed a nine-year lease with North Point Real Estate for a second Research and Development Center. The RDC II consists of an office building, which can accommodate some 550 employees, and a Laboratory Building, which is designed for 150 employees and test equipment used in Gulfstream's research and development efforts. Gulfstream completed the new Sales and Design Center addition in June and officially opened the first phase of the new Savannah Service Center in August. In 2007, Gulfstream also tested its Synthetic Vision-Primary Flight Display (SV-PFD) and EVS II together for the first time. The SV-PFD is a dramatic enhancement to the Gulfstream PlaneView flight displays. It features a three-dimensional color image of terrain overlaid with the primary flight display instrument symbology, which are arranged on the screen to create a large-view area for terrain. By early 2008, the FAA had certified both EVS II and SV-PFD.
Government and Special Mission Aircraft
From the very first days, Gulfstream aircraft have been adapted for government and military use. Today, nearly 40 countries operate Gulfstream jets, including 27 that use our aircraft to transport their heads of state. In addition to their traditional role of executive transportation, Gulfstream aircraft have also been reconfigured and equipped to serve and be involved in missions as diverse as priority cargo and personnel transportation, maritime and aerial reconnaissance, medical evacuation and pilot and astronaut training. The aircraft's performance and reliability has earned Gulfstream the distinction and privilege of serving all five branches of the U.S. military. The advanced technology, safety, reliability and adaptability of the aircraft make them as attractive to government and military operators as they are to international and Fortune 500 corporate operators.
Continuing to Soar
On March 13, 2008, Gulfstream announced the introduction of an all-new business jet: the Gulfstream G650. With its ultra-large cabin and ultra-long range, the G650 offers the longest range, fastest speed, largest cabin and most advanced cockpit in the Gulfstream fleet. It is capable of traveling 7,000 (12,964 km) nautical miles at 0.85 Mach or will cover shorter distances at a speed of Mach 0.925, making it the fastest civilian aircraft flying. It can climb to 51,000 feet (15,544 m), allowing it to avoid airline-traffic congestion and adverse weather.
On Oct. 5 of the same year, Gulfstream announced another addition to its business-jet fleet: the large-cabin, mid-range Gulfstream G250 (later renamed the G280). The G280 offers the largest cabin and the longest range at the fastest speed in the super mid-size class. It is capable of traveling 3,600 nautical miles (6,667 km) at 0.80 Mach and has a maximum operating speed of 0.85 Mach. It can reach its 41,000-foot (12,497 m) initial cruise altitude in just 20 minutes and can climb to a maximum altitude of 45,000 feet (13,716 m).
Gulfstream made business-aviation history in 2009, when it conducted two powered rollouts just one week apart. The Gulfstream G650 officially rolled out of the Savannah manufacturing facility under its own power on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2009. The G280 followed just one week later.
As Gulfstream promised when the aircraft were announced, both the G650 and the G280 flew before the end of 2009. The G650 took its first flight on Nov. 25, while the G280 went up for the first time on Dec. 11.
In November 2010, Gulfstream announced an expansion of its Savannah facilities through a $500-million, seven-year plan to ensure that the company is well-positioned to meet future demand for business-jet aircraft and support services. The growth resulted in 1,000 additional Gulfstream jobs, an increase of more than 15 percent.
In addition to the Savannah expansion, Gulfstream's sites in Westfield, Mass., and Luton, England, also grew in 2011. In October, Gulfstream announced an expansion of its service center at the Barnes Regional Airport in Westfield, Mass. that will result in 100 additional Gulfstream jobs, a nearly 80 percent increase over the size of Gulfstream's Westfield workforce. The Luton, England, service center also relocated to a 75,000-square-foot, more modern hangar. The hangar and accompanying office area nearly doubles space at the site, allowing Gulfstream Luton technicians to more efficiently service Gulfstream's entire fleet, including the all-new G650, the company's flagship aircraft.
In November 2011, the Gulfstream G650 received its provisional type certificate (PTC) from the FAA. This clears the way for the company to begin interior completions of the ultra-large-cabin, ultra-long-range business jet in preparation for customer deliveries in the second quarter of 2012, as originally planned.
On March 2, 2012, the G280 received a PTC from the FAA. It obtained a PTC from the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel (CAAI) on Dec. 29, 2011.
A Continued Commitment to Service
Gulfstream puts as much effort into maintaining its aircraft as it does into manufacturing them. Toward that end, in January 2011, General Dynamics Aviation Services was rebranded as Gulfstream to simplify its brand identity in an expanding global market and to enhance the service experience for customers. Gulfstream now owns and operates nine service centers worldwide, plus one component repair facility.
Aviation International News named Gulfstream Product Support the best in the industry for nine straight years, and No. 1 in Professional Pilot's Product Support survey 11 of the last 14 years.
Today, Gulfstream employs more than 11,500 people at 11 major locations: Savannah, Ga.; Appleton, Wis.; Brunswick, Ga.; Dallas; Las Vegas, Nev.; Lincoln, Calif.; London, England; Long Beach, Calif.; Mexicali, Mexico; Westfield, Mass.; and West Palm Beach, Fla. With more than 50 successful years in the industry, Gulfstream is The World Standard® in business aviation. Gulfstream Aerospace looks forward to the future – to the completion of the Master Plan, the deliveries of the first G280 and G650, and beyond.
(Sources: Gulfstream Aerospace Archives and “The Legend of Gulfstream” by Jeffrey L. Rodengen)
The Gulfstream Fleet Today
The Gulfstream product line offers an exceptional combination of price, performance and value-added customer preferences in each segment of the mid-cabin to ultra-large-cabin business-jet market.
The ultra-large-cabin, ultra-long-range Gulfstream G650, powered by two of the new Rolls-Royce BR725 engines, offers the longest range, fastest speed, largest cabin and the most-advanced cockpit in the Gulfstream fleet. It is capable of traveling 7,000 nautical miles (12,964 km) at 0.85 Mach or 6,000 nautical miles (11,112 km) at 0.90 Mach. Using an advanced aerodynamic design, the G650 has a maximum operating speed of 0.925 Mach, which will make it the fastest civilian aircraft flying. It can climb to a maximum altitude of 51,000 feet (15,545 m), allowing it to avoid airline-traffic congestion and adverse weather. The G650 features the most technologically advanced PlaneView II cockpit with a number of enhancements including: four 14-inch (36 cm), adaptive, liquid-crystal displays; three standard PlaneBook® computer tablets; a smaller pedestal; a standby multifunction controller that combines current display controller functionality with standby flight instruments; and a fully automatic, three-dimensional scanning weather radar with an integral terrain database for efficient ground-clutter elimination. In addition, the G650 uses the Gulfstream Enhanced Vision System (EVS II), the Synthetic Vision-Primary Flight Display (SV-PFD) system and Head-Up Display (HUD II). The aircraft offers a full three-axis fly-by-wire system that delivers flight-envelope protection, increased redundancy and reduced maintenance. In November 2011, the G650 received its PTC from the FAA.
The large-cabin, ultra-long-range Gulfstream G550 can fly up to 51,000 feet (15,545 m) at speeds up to Mach 0.885. Powered by two Rolls-Royce BR710 engines, the G550 can fly eight passengers and four crewmembers 6,750 nautical miles (12,501 km). The G550 also features the PlaneView cockpit. The G550's standard equipment includes the Gulfstream Enhanced Vision System and the Gulfstream Signature Cursor Control Devices. The fully equipped G550 offers a choice of cabin layouts and option packages. Dependent upon the configuration, the G550 can accommodate 14 to 18 passengers. The aircraft received FAA certification in August 2003 and validation from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in March 2004. The G550 entered service in September 2003. In early 2004, the G550 team was awarded the 2003 Collier Trophy, the most prestigious award in aviation in North America.
The large-cabin, long-range Gulfstream G450 business jet, which was introduced at the 2003 National Business Aviation Association's annual meeting, is an entire aircraft upgrade of an already outstanding business jet, the Gulfstream GIV/GIV-SP/G400. With the ability to accommodate 12 to 16 passengers, travel 4,350 nautical miles (8,056 km) and cruise at speeds up to Mach 0.88, the G450 can handle domestic and international flights with ease. The G450 is powered by upgraded Tay 611-8C Rolls-Royce engines. Combined with aerodynamic and material improvements, its flight and performance characteristics provide greater fuel efficiency and lower operating costs. The G450 features the PlaneView cockpit as well as Gulfstream's Enhanced Vision System. On Aug. 12, 2004, the G450 received a Type Certificate from the FAA. The G450 received both its EASA Type Certificate and FAA Production Certificate in November.
The large-cabin, mid-range Gulfstream G280 offers the largest cabin and the longest range at the fastest speed in its class. Powered by twin Honeywell HTF7250G engines, the G280 can accommodate up to 10 passengers, travel 3,600 nautical miles (6,667 km) and cruise at speeds up to Mach 0.85. The aircraft also features 17 percent to 35 percent more floor area than other super mid-size business jets. This additional space provides for a larger lavatory, an improved galley and increased storage. The G280 is equipped with the most advanced flight deck in its class: the PlaneView 280 featuring Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion avionics. This flight deck features three high-resolution, 15-inch (38 cm) diagonal Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs) that are capable of showing multiple formats, including a navigation map with terrain; approach and airport charts; graphical flight planning, and optional synthetic and enhanced vision.
Rounding out the Gulfstream fleet is the wide-cabin, high-speed Gulfstream G150. Powered by two fuel-efficient Honeywell TFE731-40AR engines, the wide-cabin, high-speed Gulfstream G150 offers the best performance in its class with a range of 3,000 nautical miles (5,556 km). Available in three configurations, this aircraft comfortably accommodates six to eight passengers. The wide cabin features stand-up headroom, ample aisle space, and generous seated headroom and legroom. G150 benefits include competitive warranty, training and maintenance programs. On Jan. 18, 2005, the first G150 business jet rolled out of the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) manufacturing facility at the Ben Gurion International Airport in Israel and successfully completed its first flight on May 3, 2005. The G150 received its Type Certificate from the Civil Aviation Administration of Israel and the FAA on Nov. 7, 2005.
500 Gulfstream Road
Savannah, Georgia 31407 USA
Contact Gulfstream at:
+1 (912) 965-3000
Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of General Dynamics (NYSE: GD), designs, develops, manufactures, markets, services and supports the world's most technologically-advanced business jet aircraft.