(Bloomberg) General Dynamics Corp. is poised to begin deliveries of a new Gulfstream corporate jet, spurring expectations that the company will soon unveil its much-anticipated next aircraft.
The Gulfstream G600 has won U.S. certification to enter service, General Dynamics said in a statement Friday. The luxury jet, its development announced with the G500 in 2014, can seat as many as 19 passengers and fly from New York to Tokyo. The smaller G500 began deliveries in September.
But new aircraft are the lifeblood of the private-plane business, often spurring owners to trade in for the new models, and speculation is already mounting about what’s next. Bombardier Inc.’s Global 7500 began deliveries in December, ending the six-year reign of Gulfstream’s G650 as the biggest, longest-range and -- some would say -- most-coveted corporate jet. Industry mavens are betting that Gulfstream is already working on a rival.
“Gulfstream will announce this year to remove any uncertainty that they’re going to move back up into the top position,” said Rolland Vincent, a consultant in Plano, Texas, who produces JetNet IQ in conjunction with researcher JetNet. The aircraft is expected to fly “just a little further, a little faster, a little bigger.”
Deliveries on the G600 are set to begin amid strong U.S. demand for business aircraft, spurred by the corporate tax cut, said Gulfstream President Mark Burns. The U.S. is the largest market, with about 60% of the world’s private jet fleet. Sales in China have stalled because of the trade dispute with the U.S., while Mideast conflicts have throttled demand in that region, he said.
“The market continues to be good in the Western part of the world,” he said in an interview. “As some of the trade agreements get done, I think that market comes back fairly quickly.”
The backlog, or the time from order to delivery, for the G500 is about two years and for the G600, two and a half, Burns said. The planes carry list prices of $46.5 million and $57.9 million, respectively.
The two jets are the first new models designed from scratch since the 2008 introduction of the G280 and G650, both of which began deliveries at the end of 2012. The new aircraft are part of an effort to refresh Gulfstream’s offerings to maintain its lead in the market for large-cabin corporate planes.
Gulfstream has introduced its last four new aircraft in pairs. For its next product announcement, it won’t necessarily focus only on the market for the biggest planes.
With the arrival of the G500, the manufacturer phased out production of the G450, an older model with less range. That left a large gap in its lineup between the smallest model, the G280, and the G500. Which begs the question whether Gulfstream will also introduce a smaller jet, even if it decides to take on the Global 7500 at the high end.