Nearly two decades after it first entered service, Gulfstream G550 saw its final commercial delivery this week. The Savannah, Georgia airframer has produced more than 600 of the large-cabin twinjets since receiving its type and production certificates in August 2003. According to a company spokesperson, while some special-missions variants continue to undergo modifications, this week’s delivery ended G550 production.
First announced in 1999 as a derivative of the GV, the G550 (formerly GV-SP) was the launch platform for the company’s PlaneView flight deck and was also certified with an enhanced vision system as a standard safety feature, paving the way for its incorporation into future aircraft designs. With a range of 6,750 nm at Mach 0.80, the type earned more than 50 speed records. It served as the top of the Gulfstream line until the certification of the G650 in 2012. According to JetNet, 603 G550s remain in service worldwide.
“The Gulfstream G550 set a new standard for performance and reliability and continues to outperform and impress with its wide-ranging capabilities,” said company president Mark Burns. “Given our vast G550 fleet in service, we look to continuing to support all G550 customers around the world with Gulfstream Customer Support’s extensive network.”
Development of the Gulfstream G550
The G550 (GV-SP) with improved engines received its FAA type certificate on August 14, 2003. In 2014, Gulfstream looked at a re-engine with the Rolls-Royce Pearl BR700 development announced in May 2018 for the new Global Express 5500 and 6500 variants but preferred the BR725-powered, 7,500 nmi G650. The 500th Gulfstream G550 aircraft was delivered in May 2015.
As it is replaced by the $54.5 million Gulfstream G600 with a lower 6,200 nmi range but with a better cabin and cockpit, faster long range cruise and lower fuel burn, it could leave production in 2019. Deliveries went from 50 aircraft in 2011 to 19 in 2016 and with 40 units for sale in a fleet of 540, its valuation are falling: a 10-year-old G550 valued $28 million a year before is worth $18-$20 million in January 2017, while a two-year-old went from $40 to $35 million. In May 2017, early 2003 G550s are valued $14 million against more than $45 million new, flying an average of 425 h per year. In December 2018, a 2012-2013 G550 is valued $28-31 million, and it costs $7,135 per hour for 400 hours a year.
As it was replaced by the Gulfstream G600 by October 2019, the G550 was kept in limited production for long-term special missions applications and government orders.
G550 flight deck
Compared to the Gulfstream V, drag reduction details boost range by 250 nmi (460 km) and increase fuel efficiency. Maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) is increased by 500 lb (230 kg) and takeoff performance is enhanced. A seventh pair of windows is added and the entry door is moved 2 ft (0.61 m) forward to increase usable cabin length. The PlaneView flight deck features cursor control devices, Honeywell Primus Epic avionics, standard head-up guidance system by Rockwell Collins and enhanced vision system by Elbit, improving situational awareness in reduced visibility conditions.
Initial long-range cruise altitude is FL 400-410, first hour fuel burn is 4,500–5,000 lb (2,000–2,300 kg) decreasing for the second hour to 3,000 and 2,400 lb (1,400 and 1,100 kg) for the last hour. Flight hourly budget is $700-950 for engine reserves, $250 for parts and 2.5 maintenance hours. It competes against the Bombardier Global 6000, which has higher direct operating costs and less range but a more spacious cross section, and the Dassault Falcon 7X with fly-by-wire flight controls, better fuel efficiency and a wider but shorter cabin.