Gulfstream's Growing Family

 - October 13, 2009, 11:25 AM

Gulfstream and Israel Aerospace Industries on October 6 rolled out the new Gulfstream G250 at IAI’s facility on Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, an event I was fortunate to attend. The G250 has its roots in the G200, which was formerly the Galaxy. Gulfstream acquired the Galaxy and Astra SPx type certificates from IAI/Galaxy Aerospace in 2001, with the objective of expanding Gulfstream’s product line by adding these midsize jets. The Savannah, Ga.-based OEM then took over completions, painting, marketing and eventually product support of the Galaxy and Astra airplanes, and soon rebranded them the G100 and G200, respectively. IAI remained the manufacturer of the jets, and continues as the OEM for the G150 and G250 models. The G150 replaced the G100 and the G250–when it goes into production–will replace the G200.

While watching the G250’s rollout in Tel Aviv–the airplane actually taxied under its own power for the event–I recalled Gulfstream’s launch of its big rebranding effort, which it announced at the NBAA Convention in Orlando in 2002. I remembered Bill Boisture, then Gulfstream CEO, telling a large group of customers, suppliers, company employees and media assembled at the Marriott World Center Hotel that Gulfstream’s product line would increase from four in-production models (the G100, G200, GIV-SP and GV) to what he said would soon be seven models: the G100; the G150 (announced at the same event); the G200; the G300 (a shorter range version of the former GIV-SP); the G400 (a longer range version of the former GIV-SP); the G500 (a shorter range version of the GV-SP, which was the in-development, next iteration of the GV); and the G550 (a longer range version of the GV-SP).

And there was room to grow in this newly branded product line. Gulfstream said at the time that the G450 designation was reserved for the still-under-wraps GIV-X (or –Next), though it did not then discuss the G350.

Before that year’s convention, Gulfstream offered me the opportunity to interview Boisture about the rebranding plan on a GV flight from Teterboro, N.J., to Savannah. We were the only passengers. After we’d finished the interview, Boisture, who is now CEO of Hawker Beeechcraft, asked me what I honestly thought about the plan. I told him I thought it was confusing. I speculated that not only would longtime customers have a hard time calling the GIV-SP, GV and GV-SP the G300, G400, G500 or G550–I had yet to understand the distinctions–but I also thought they would, as I did, have a hard time understanding how the GIV-SP could morph into the G300 and G400, and later the G450. The fact that the large-cabin Gulfstreams were all grandfathered on the GII type certificate made this all seem to me like smoke-and-mirrors marketing.

Well, I got over it. Seven years later I’ve grown to like the G-hundred designations, and I think so have most others in the industry. Now the G100-to-G650 designations seem as logical to me as the GI-to-GV designations. And waiting in the wings are at least two more new-series models that Gulfstream is not yet talking publicly about.

Perhaps fittingly, both the G250 and G650 are heading for new–not grandfathered–type certificates. So within three years time (the G250 in 2011 and G650 in 2012), Gulfstream will be able to say it doubled from two to four (including its first business airplane, the twin-turboprop GI) the number of original type certificates it has brought to fruition.