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Business Aviation Industry Focus: The Gulfstream II

by Jeremy Cox 1. December 2008 00:00
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The time had arrived for the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation (GAEC) on New York's Long Island at Bethpage, to step-up the competition in the business aircraft sales market, by entering the 'jet-age' with a redesign of its highly successful G159 'Gee 1' Business Liner. History would eventually prove that this new model, the G1159 'Gee 2' would become the crowned monarch of the entire industry, by being chosen by hundreds of the world's largest companies, as well as a considerably high number of heads-of-state, all across the planet.

In May 1965, before GAEC had even completed the mock-up of their 'Gee 2' design, they had received 30 firm orders for the aircraft; many of the orders coming from existing 'Gee 1' owners. So instead of having to embark on a massive sales campaign to underwrite their new design, they began cutting-metal a full year ahead of their intended schedule. Sharing the same fuselage design as it's predecessor, the cabin of the new 'Gee 2' was longer by almost four feet; 39 feet from cockpit bulkhead to the centre of the aft pressure bulkhead, which was an impressive ten, or more feet longer, than the cabin of the JetStar. The added length over the 'Gee 1' allowed the specious and full split-galley to be relocated in the rear of the cabin, ahead of the lavatory compartment. The same seating layout of the 'Gee 1' remained in the 'Gee 2', where the forward cabin had a four-place club arrangement; in the mid cabin there was a conference/dining cluster grouped to the left/centre, while opposite on the right hand side was the signature 'Gulfstream' credenza cabinet. In the rear of this enormous cabin a single forward-facing seat was located across the aisle from a side facing, three-place settee. No manufacturer of business aircraft in that era, even came close to match this vast cabin space.

Serial number 001 left the ground for the first time ever, at Bethpage in October, 1966. It roared off the runway powered by two Rolls Royce RB 511-8 Spey engines both delivering 11,400 lbs of take-off thrust. One year later, after meeting all of the requirements of testing and qualification under the Transport Category of Civil Air Regulations - 4B, GAEC was issued a Type Certificate for its new-purpose-built jet-powered business-liner. An early advertisement for the 'Gee 2' placed in a leading business magazine of the time states "…The Intercontinental Business Machine ('ICBM' - Remember that at that time, the Northern Hemisphere was entrenched in their Cold-War) flies at 585 MPH, has a 3,000 mile range with 10 passengers, provides for 500 lbs of luggage. The cabin has 73 inches of head-room with a flat-floor. The aircraft has a 50 year projected life…" This last point begs me to mention that G1159 'Gee 2', serial number 001 was the main aircraft used during the FAA certification, in conjunction with serial numbers 002 and 003. Once the FAA granted the certificate, after 308 hours of total flying-time accumulated on serial number 001, she was pressed into service as a sales demonstrator until 1,200 hours later and in July of 1970. She sold to Mr. Bob Galvin, the then Chief Executive Officer of Motorola with a little over 1,500 hours total-time. Mr. Galvin and his team put her to good use running them to business meetings around the world, thus making it possible for them to sell their NASA approved, Apollo lunar-module tested/proven, transponder technology. This was also the same time period that Motorola was demonstrating their prototype DynaTAC portable radiotelephone cellular system. I am writing this chapter of the history of business aviation, in late 2008; forty two years after 001 first flew. I am very pleased to report that she is still owned by Mr. Galvin, and best of all, the Motorola flight department still flies her on a regular basis. She now has 9,000 hours and sports a fully integrated, all digital Honeywell 'glass cockpit,' avionics suite that would put some 'Gee 4's" to shame, and looks graceful with the Aviation Partner winglets that are installed to qualify it as an 'SP.' What a wonderful story, but I digress slightly.

The first 'Gee 2's' were certified to 43,000 feet, which was later increased to 45,000 feet after incorporating a service change. Additionally the initial MGTOW was 57,500 Lbs, but after modification, a 'Gee 2' can operate at 64,800 Lbs MGTOW. Interestingly the range of a 'Gee 2' could be extended by almost 450 NM, if optional tip-tanks were installed. These tanks boosted the original fuel capacity by 3,500 Lbs, to 26,800 Lbs of useable fuel The MGTOW also went to a massive 65,500 Lbs. Only a handful of 'Gee 2's' got tip-tanks installed, even though in 1977 it became standard equipment on all 'Gee 2's'; 17 left the factory-as-new with tanks, while only 4 were retrofitted. This low rate of participation by owners in this program is attributed to the fact that less than six years after the tip-tank program was introduced, a far better range extension was derived from the 'Gee 2 Bee' program.

As the 'Gee 2' program approached its middle teen years, in the late 1970's, a new version was in-work at the factory in Savannah. A super-critical wing with increased wing-sweep-back and winglets was being mounted onto a lengthened and strengthened 'Gee 2' fuselage, to herald the commencement of the 'Gee 3' production run (FAA Type Certificate issued in September, 1980.) The 'Gee 3' was designated the G-1159A and varied from the '2' by the additional wing sweep, and a wing-span increase of six feet winglets included. The fuselage was lengthened by two feet, just aft of the main entrance door, a new curved windscreen, and a longer-better-contour radome was also installed. Its range leapt up by 800 NM over the standard-non-tip-tanked 'Gee 2.' Exactly one year after the 'Gee 3' was certificated, the FAA approved the retrofit program for all 'Gee 2's.' A total of forty three 'Gee 2's' became 'Gee 2 Bee's.'

In May of 1967, 'Gee 2' serial number 005 became the first business jet to fly non-stop across the Atlantic, both Eastbound and Westbound. A week separated each leg; the aircraft was owned and operated by National Distillers & Chemical Corporation. The first internationally recognized speed record achieved by a 'Gee 2' occurred in February 1975, when the Minneapolis Star & Tribune owned, serial number 028 made a non-stop, 2,560 NM run from Antigua (TAPA) to Senegal (GOOY) in a little over five hours at an average speed of 502.40 KTS/GS. Next she took the speed record from Cairo (HECA) to London (EGGW) in May of the same year by covering 1,918 NM in a little over four hours and forty nine minutes at an average speed of 394.22 KTS/GS. These were the first of many record setting flights made by subsequent Gulfstream Jets in the future, the most notable being the February 1988 around-the-world record set by the then CEO of Gulfstream Aerospace, Mr. Allen Paulson, in a 'Gee 4', in a little over thirty six hours. Most recently, according to Gulfstream (now a subsidiary of General Dynamics), On October 27th, of this year (2008) a 'Gee Five Fifty' established a new record by flying 3,813 nautical miles from (PANC) Anchorage, Alaska, to (ZMUB) Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, in 7 hours and 57 minutes at an average cruise speed of 0.85 Mach into headwinds of 14 knots. The G550 then flew 5,868 nautical miles from (ZMUB) Ulaanbaatar to (KSAN) San Diego averaging a speed of 0.82 Mach with an average headwind of 5 knots. The flight lasted 12 hours and 34 minutes.

In my opinion, the key to the success of all of the home-grown Gulfstream models, the G-159 'Gee 1' included is the decision made long ago, to use the Rolls Royce engine. The RR-Spey engine series has had a long and proven track record of giving amazing performance as well as providing impressive mechanical reliability on various military and airline transport aircraft. When bolted to the various Gulfstream airframes, it has always delivered a stellar reputation. With my assertion in mind, amazingly the 'Gee 2' actually delivered better runway performance than it's older and much lighter sister, the 'Gee 1.' This is one of the factors that made the Gulfstream Jet series, so popular. It must also be noted that the Rolls Royce Dart, Turbo-Prop engines mounted on the 'Gee 1' were started by electric starter generators. The Spey, Tay and subsequent Turbo-Jet/Turbo-Fan engines on the 'Gee 2' on-up, can only be started with compressed air, which is usually supplied by the on-board Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), or if that's failed, by a 'Huff-Cart' which is basically an adapted, industrial sized air compressor.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention the NASA Shuttle training program that four 'Gee 2's' (serial numbers: 0118, 0144, 0146, 0147) were modified for this role. The Shuttle program was 'STA,' (Shuttle Training Aircraft.) Training astronaut/pilots to manually glide the Space Shuttle down for a safe landing was proving to be nearly impossible to achieve with a ground-based simulator system. Therefore NASA chose the 'Gee 2' as the ideal aircraft to modify as an 'in-air' operational flight simulator. What the program involved was that the left-side of the cockpit was modified to resemble the pilot command station of the Space Shuttle, with its associated flight control systems, while the right-side remained close to a standard 'Gee 2' configuration, but for a heads-up display system on both sides. The entire aircraft was strengthened, the flap system was re-configured to allow up-movement, as well as down, two lateral control fins were installed ahead of the main undercarriage legs at each wing intersection, and then the thrust reverser system was modified to deploy in-flight, along with the main undercarriage legs, only, extended in flight as well. This configuration best simulates the angle (19 degree dive) and rate of descent (10,000 FPM at 300 KTAS) that the shuttle normally requires after re-entry from space, down to its landing on a very long runway.

In total, 258 'Gee 2's' were built. Today, 214 of these remain in operation. Many have fallen victims to the unstable costs of aviation fuel, while others have been passed over to newer Stage Three and Four aircraft (the 'Gee 2' was originally certified only to comply with Stage One noise levels.) In the mid 1970's, it became necessary for them to meet Stage Two noise level requirements, and so the thrust reversers and tail cones were modified and retrofitted to achieve this. There are now a couple of Stage Three 'Hush-Kits' STC's available for the 'Gee 2' and 'Gee 3' series, but a mere handful of aircraft have been upgraded to meet these newer requirement, and both programs are in-question to their economic viability now.

The issue that most fascinates me about the Gulfstream business jet series, is the fact that all of the subsequent jet models (excluding the purchased designs from Israel) are all derived from the original 'Gee 1', and are covered by the same FAA Type certificate (A12EA.) I will illustrate my point to you on this issue, by using the following table:

Model # Popular Name Certified on Aircraft Type Engines TCDS # Current Production (Sept., 2008)
G-159 Gee One 5/21/1959 Twin-Engine Turbo-Jet Rolls Royce Mk 529 Dart 1A17 No
G-1159 Gee Two 10/19/1967 Twin-Engine Turbo-Jet Rolls Royce RB 511-8 Spey A12EA No
G-1159 Gee Two (Tip Tanks) 5/13/1977 Twin-Engine Turbo-Fan Rolls Royce RB 511-8 Spey A12EA No
G-1159A Gee Three 9/22/1980 Twin-Engine Turbo-Fan Rolls Royce RB 511-8 Spey A12EA No
G-1159B Gee Two Bee 9/17/1981 Twin-Engine Turbo-Fan Rolls Royce RB 511-8 Spey A12EA No
1125 Westwind Astra 8/29/1985 Twin-Engine Turbo-Fan AlliedSignal/Garrett TFE731-3A-200G (or 3C) A16NM No
G-IV Gee Four 4/22/1987 Twin-Engine Turbo-Fan Rolls Royce Mark 611-8 Tay A12EA No
G-IV Gee Three Hundred Serial Number 1,500 and above Twin-Engine Turbo-Fan Rolls Royce Mark 611-8 Tay A12EA No
G-IV Gee Four Hundred Serial Number 1,500 and above Twin-Engine Turbo-Fan Rolls Royce Mark 611-8 Tay A12EA No
Astra SPX Astra SPX 1/8/1996 Twin-Engine Turbo-Fan AlliedSignal/Garrett TFE731-40R-200G A16NM No
GV Gee Five 4/11/1997 Twin-Engine Turbo-Fan BMW-Rolls Royce BR700-710A1-10 A12EA No
Galaxy Galaxy 12/16/1998 Twin-Engine Turbo-Fan Pratt & Whitney Canada PW306A A53NM No
G200 Gee Two Hundred 1/16/2002 Twin-Engine Turbo-Fan Pratt & Whitney Canada PW306A A53NM Yes
G100 Gee One Hundred 8/9/2002 Twin-Engine Turbo-Fan AlliedSignal/Garrett TFE731-40R-200G A16NM No
GV-SP Gee Five SP 8/14/2003 Twin-Engine Turbo-Fan BMW-Rolls Royce BR700-710C4-11 A12EA No
GV-SP Gee Five Fifty Serial Number 5001 and above Twin-Engine Turbo-Fan BMW-Rolls Royce BR700-710C4-11 A12EA Yes
GV-SP Gee Five Hundred Serial Number 5001 and above Twin-Engine Turbo-Fan BMW-Rolls Royce BR700-710C4-11 A12EA Yes
GIV-X Gee Four Plus 8/12/2004 Twin-Engine Turbo-Fan Rolls Royce Mark 611-8 Tay A12EA No
GIV-X Gee Four Fifty Serial Number 4001 and above Twin-Engine Turbo-Fan Rolls Royce Mark 611-8 Tay A12EA Yes
GIV-X Gee Three Fifty Serial Number 4001 and above Twin-Engine Turbo-Fan Rolls Royce Mark 611-8 Tay A12EA Yes
G150 Gee One Fifty 11/7/2005 Twin-Engine Turbo-Fan AlliedSignal/Garrett TFE731-40R-200G A16NM Yes


Okay so next month we shall focus on the Cessna Citation, as we further continue this look-back at the history of the various aircraft that have shaped modern business aviation. If you have a suggestion for me as to a specific business aircraft that one of these future Business Aviation focus articles should be dedicated to, please let me know your thoughts. Also remember that any input that you care to make will be of great interest to all of the readers here at Globalair.com. So don't be bashful. Go ahead and write your comments and suggestions here. Please don't forget that whatever you write here, can be seen publicly by everyone that visits this page, so please be funny, be inspired, but most importantly of all, please be nice. Merry Christmas to all of you.


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Jeremy Cox


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