MEBA: Gulfstream gets into IFE
Business jet manufacturer Gulfstream has taken another step towards a full suite of IFE and connectivity capabilities for its aircraft, announcing the new Audio Video Distribution System at the MEBA show in Dubai.
The Savannah-based company already offers the BroadBand Multi-Link (BBML) Ku-band satellite passenger connectivity as an option on its large-cabin aircraft.
Created in conjunction with Washington State-based media network specialist Innovative Advantage, the Audio Video Distribution System supports the latest audio and video standards and offers increased bandwidth and better sound quality. It will be standard on the new Gulfstream G650. From next year it will be an option on in-production G450s and G550s and available as a retrofit for all in-service large-cabin Gulfstreams.
“We’re bullish about the long-term market for our products despite the problems of the global economy,” Gulfstream sales and marketing senior VP Larry Flynn said here yesterday. “We have backlog out to 2017 – a much stronger situation than when we went into the last downturn.”
There are further good reasons for morale to stay high, according to Flynn. “We’ve seen only one order cancelled this year, and a couple last year,” he said. “People want these aircraft and they’ll figure out a way to get them. We’re still taking a lot of orders, though the pace has slowed a little – this region is better than others in that respect.”
The strength of Gulfstream’s interest in the Middle East is evident in its presence on the static park. The company has a G150, a G200 and a G550 lined up among the 78 that have flown in specially for the show. Subsequent editions of MEBA can be expected to feature the two new designs that the company announced this year – the top-of-the-line G650 and the super-midsize G250.
Featuring an innovative bonded-panel structure for an ultra-smooth exterior, plus enhanced vision and fly-by-wire, the high-speed, ultra-long-range G650 is due to fly in the second half of next year and to enter service in 2012. “There has been a tremendous market response to the G650,” Flynn said. “It’s a whole new category of business aircraft, and we’re confident that its $60 million price tag means it won’t impact sales of the G450 and G550.”
The G250, with PlaneView integrated cockpit, reduced cabin altitude, inflight baggage access, brake-by-wire and a wing modelled on that of the large-cabin GV, is also set to fly before the end of next year, with certification and service entry to follow in 2011.
Development of the G250 and G650 is funded by the continuing success of the existing in-production family, comprising the mid-size G150 and G200 and large-cabin G450 and G550. In-service totals are 59 G150s, 197 G200s, 126 G450s and 195 G550s. Gulfstream chalked up a total of 257 orders across the range last year and plans to deliver an estimated 159 aircraft this year. Net sales in the third quarter of this year were $1.37 billion compared with $1.32 billion in the same period last year.
This year has also seen the delivery of the 100th Gulfstream for a Middle Eastern customer. “We remain very confident about our prospects here,” said Flynn. “You have only to look at the number of aircraft on the ramp to know that there is significant long-term interest in business/VIP aviation in this region.”