Gulfstream’s unveiling in October 2019 of its new G700 business jet transformed the competitive dynamics in the ultra-long-range niche of the business jet market, and significantly strengthens the company’s position in this key market segment.
Arguably, Gulfstream created the ultra-long-range segment with the G650, which entered service in 2012. Since then, the manufacturer has shown every sign that it has no intention of relinquishing control of the new segment. Bombardier had responded to the G650 with the Global 7000 (since re-named the Global 7500) and its Global 8000 sibling, which feature longer range and larger cabins than the Gulfstream model.
Gulfstream initially responded to the new Global models with the extended-range G650ER. The G700, which is essentially a stretched version of the G650, now constitutes a further, even more formidable response.
The Global 7500 has a range with eight passengers of 7,700 nautical miles and a cabin volume of 2,786 cubic feet; both figures exceed those of the G650ER. Its 200-nautical-mile range advantage over the G650ER might not matter all that much to many potential customers. The larger cabin, though, could be more of a factor to sales prospects.
The new G700, however, has a cabin volume that much more nearly matches that of the Global 7500. Preliminary specifications issued by Gulfstream list the G700 as having a range with eight passengers of 7,500 nautical miles, the same as the G650ER.
It is possible that the G700’s specified range will increase somewhat after the flight test campaign has been completed. Nevertheless, it is the aircraft’s sizable cabin, achieved through a 10.08-foot fuselage stretch and an interior reconfiguration, that makes the G700 a greater threat to the Global 7500 than is the G650ER.
The launch customer for the G700 is Qatar Airways, which ordered 10 G700s for its Qatar Executive charter service. The initial North American fleet customer is fractional ownership provider Flexjet.
Flight testing of the G700 began in February 2020. FAA approval and initial customer deliveries of the aircraft are targeted for 2022. Gulfstream will look to secure FAA approval of the G700 through an amendment to the G650 type certificate.
Somewhat inevitably, the introduction of the G700 leads to the question of its potential impact on sales of the G650ER. This is a complex issue for Gulfstream as the G650ER remains quite popular. However, Gulfstream already planned to reduce G650 series production in 2020 and 2021 as output ramps up of its new G500/G600 family. With the advent of the G700, the G650ER may soon find itself squeezed in a narrow niche in the Gulfstream product line between the G600 and the G700, with most of its potential customers opting to instead purchase the newer, larger G700. Ultimately, Gulfstream may let the market determine the fate of the G650ER.