TAKE A LOOK | Inside Gulfstream’s new R1 billion private plane, the ultra-range G700
- Gulfstream's new G700 is on a world tour ahead of its certification and the industry is getting its first look at a flyable aircraft with a finished interior.
- The new Gulfstream flagship can fly up to 7,500 nautical miles and at speeds of up to Mach .925.
- Up to five living areas can exist in the aircraft with space for up to 19, as well as options for a full-size bed and shower.
- It is worth just about R1 billion.
- See more stories on Business Insider SA's home page.
Gulfstream's newest private jet is nearly ready to begin flying some of the world's wealthiest travellers.
Priced at $75 million – the equivalent of R1 billion – the Gulfstream G700 is the American manufacturer's most expensive aircraft to date.
It promises incredible speed, range, and spaciousness. Two Rolls Royce Pearl 700 engines power the aircraft, enabling a top speed of Mach .925 and a maximum range of 7,500 nautical miles.
Any city pair in the world is also accessible in a one-stop journey. Non-stop flights between cities such as New York-Johannesburg; London-Santiago; and Hong Kong-Dallas are achievable under the right conditions.
While flight testing continues on track for a 2022 certification, Gulfstream is already giving customers a taste of what to expect from the aircraft.
The first G700 with a completed interior is on a global demonstration tour, with its first stop in Doha, Qatar on a visit to Qatar Executive as the aircraft's launch customer.
Take a look inside the Gulfstream G700, also known as the "Titan of the Skies."
Sitting alone in an otherwise empty aircraft hangar, the Gulfstream G700 is impressively massive. Its 103-foot wingspan takes up nearly the entire hangar that's built for airliners.
The aircraft's journey to Doha was proof enough of its capabilities, even with a passenger manifest consisting of Gulfstream pilots, engineers, and other representatives. The 6,711-nautical mile flight was completed in just 13 hours and 16 minutes, which Gulfstream says is a speed record for the city pair.
Climbing on board the aircraft, airstairs are positioned so that passengers ascend directly into the plane instead of up to the main door. Lighted steps guide the way, with handrails on each side.
Everything is bigger on the G700, and that starts in the galley. The 10-foot-long "ultragalley" on this aircraft was designed with customer feedback in mind, with touches including a large cold storage area.
It's here that cabin attendants craft restaurant-quality meals using the onboard oven and microwave. With journeys potentially exceeding 13 hours, flyers can have breakfast, lunch, and dinner on a single flight.
Gulfstream then designed the passenger cabin to be the widest and tallest in the industry at six feet and three inches tall, as well as eight feet and two inches wide.
It's taller and wider than the Bombardier Global 7500, its primary rival in the ultra-long-range category.
A 56-foot and 11-inch cabin with space for up to five living areas means that owners can get creative, and Gulfstream will work directly with them to nail down a preferred style.
This aircraft is configured for just 15 but the G700 has a maximum capacity of 19 passengers, and owners can have as many or as few seats as desired.
Two pairs of club seats comprise the first of four living spaces on this aircraft.
Standard for nearly every private jet, these seats are ideal for takeoff, landing, and lounging during cruise flight. This section is also where the principal passenger typically sits.
Each seat pair also has its own pocket table, stored in the sidewall, that's ideal for a variety of purposes including taking meals, working on a computer, or even playing cards, for example.
The table also features a small innovation where it automatically pops up instead of the traditional method of pushing down on the table for it to extend from the sidewall.
Each seat on the plane has its own passenger control unit, or PCU, to control aspects of the cabin including lighting, entertainment, window shapes, and more (though, they weren't installed on this plane).
Standard seat controls are also located at each seat, however, so flyers don't need to use a device just to open a window.
This aircraft had device holders installed at every seat that pop-up from the sidewall. Other options include having personal in-flight entertainment monitors at each seat.
Owners can opt for an additional set up of club seats directly behind this section if they desire.
The entertainment area then follows, with just two seats composing the space.
Opposite is the credenza that houses the large-screen television, ideal for watching movies or television shows on a long flight. Customers can also opt for a couch instead of the two seats, depending on preference.
The television monitor rises from the credenza simply pressing down on its wooden cover. Otherwise, the credenza can be used to hold snacks, magazines, or even a buffet of food, among other things.
Additional storage is also a perk of the credenza, including a wine chiller.
The conference and dining area can be found directly behind the entertainment suite on this aircraft and is ideal for more formal dining or to hold meetings.
Six seats comprise this seating area, with four around a fixed table. The two sides of the cabin can be connected with a leaf over the aisle to create a solid piece.
Finally, the rearmost compartment is the private suite. A pocket door separates this room from the rest of the plane for additional privacy.
The hideaway is yet another benefit of wide-cabin aircraft such as this one, ideal for sleeping or seclusion during a flight.
This configuration has a pair of club seats opposite a three-person divan, the latter of which can sleep two.
Owners can also adopt a bedroom instead of an office-style configuration as the cabin is wide enough to house a full-size bed that can sleep two.
Accompanying the private suite is an en suite bathroom. This setup measures 53 inches in length but larger lavatory options are available, including ones with onboard showers.
A full-size closet is also available to complete the idea of a home away from home.
Pilots are also able to enjoy the aircraft's luxury as a crew rest area is required on long-haul flights where extra pilots are needed. It can similarly be used by a cabin attendant on shorter flights.
At 88 inches in length, the rest area consists of a recliner seat that can convert into a lie-flat bed with a mattress pad on top.
Also included is an in-flight entertainment screen, as well as two windows and a storage compartment.
The business end of the aircraft is the cockpit, and it too has been updated with innovations. An incredibly fast plane calls for a cockpit reminiscent of a sports car with an all-black interior, leather seats, and a sleek design.
Honeywell Aerospace's Primus Epic avionics power the Symmetry cockpit and touch-screens replace many of the buttons and switches.
Everything in the cockpit has been designed to alleviate pilot workload and ultimately reduce fatigue. It's intended so pilots maintain full alertness and situational awareness when flying the ultra-long-haul flights of which the G700 is capable.
The head-up display, found primarily in fighter jet aircraft and a growing number of new commercial airliners and private jets, allows pilots to see the runway and terrain through the clouds. The tech makes landing in poor weather conditions possible and safer as critical information including airspeed, vertical speed, and altitude is displayed.
Active flight controls are found in the cockpit meaning that both side-sticks will move together, allowing pilots to know when the other is moving the stick. That's unlike some commercial airliners where side-sticks operate independently and has led to pilots inadvertently fighting for control of the plane.
The simplification of the cockpit means pilots can have the airplane ready for departure in 10 minutes or less, assuming it's fuelled and stocked.
Every innovation is intended to further improve the flying experience beyond anything available in the commercial airline world.
Qatar Executive has orders for 10 aircraft and will take delivery of the first customer-bound model in 2022. From Doha, any city in the world is just a one-stop flight away.
In North America, fractional aircraft provider Flexjet is the region's launch customer.
The demand for these ultra-long-range aircraft, even with their incredibly high acquisition and operating costs, truly shows how much the wealthy value the one thing that money can't buy: time.
"It's a time machine," one Gulfstream pilot told Insider, "it makes the world a smaller place."
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