The private jets battle between Bombardier and Gulfstream
A close race is to be expected when the limits of technology are pushed to the extreme in the way that these two aircraft manufacturers do.
When it comes to disproportionate luxury, some private planes are more fabulous than others.
The same as automobiles, there are brands that have the maximum seal. In the aircraft industry, Gulfstream, owned by General Dynamics, has been considered the gold standard.
The ultra-long-range Gulfstream G650 (together with its still larger G650ER version) has been, since 2012, the largest, fastest and most expensive of all aircraft for corporate use.
It has been an unparalleled status symbol between rich and famous. But its position at the top is about to be disputed.
After obtaining its Canadian and US certification in late 2018, Gulfstream's Canadian rival Bombardier Aerospace is preparing to launch its Global 7500 jet (and its 8000 brother), an aircraft designed to challenge the dominance of the G650.
At first glance, the differences between both aircraft are far from obvious. To be fair, a close race is to be expected when you push the limits of technology to the extreme in the way that these two aircraft manufacturers do.
The Global 7500/8000 and the G650 not only look similar to the untrained eye, their abilities also seem to be at the same level of play.
Both have a price of around 70 million dollars, although the Global 7500, something bigger, will cost a little more.
Although they carry engines of different brands, GE for the Bombardier Global 7500/8000 and Rolls-Royce for the Gulfstream G650 / 650ER, both aircraft can carry up to 19 passengers at speeds around Mach 0.9, little less than the speed of sound.
The difference is in the details, such as the range of the aircraft.
Bombardier has extended the reach of the Global 7500 and Global 8000 to 7,700 nautical miles and 7,900 nautical miles, respectively.
That's enough to fly nonstop from Sydney to Los Angeles, and it exceeds the 7,000 nautical mile and 7,500 nautical mile ranges of the G650 and the Gulfstream G650ER.
But the importance of that autonomy is debatable.
"Adding reach has more to do with generating headlines and showing muscle marketing and it's not so much a real consideration for customers," says Adam Twidell, CEO of PrivateFly, an international aircraft rental company based in the UK. - «Most people do not fly to the farthest ends that these planes can cover, so a couple of hundred nautical miles do not make much difference, and both planes offer the same speed, altitude and luggage capacity."
Look inside the cabin
For Twidell, the real point of difference is the interior of the cabin.
The G650 has an advantage of a few centimeters in terms of width and height of the cabin, but the cabin of the Global 7500 is two meters longer, which, in the confined spaces of an executive plane, opens some interesting possibilities.
"Its distribution in four zones and its extra space will attract those customers who seek more privacy, with their own bedroom, instead of a seat converted to a bed (which is the standard in current models of Global and Gulfstream) says Twidell.
"There is also a standing shower in your bathroom, which is not available in the G650ER, and a large conference room with a table for six people, which can also be used as a formal dining room." Bombardier also added additional windows (now 28 in total) to compete with Gulfstream's famous light-filled cabin, "he explains.
The other ace under the sleeve of Bombardier is its modern ergonomic seat, called The Nuage, the result of a seven-year research and engineering process.
Leadership in the sky
However attractive these novelties may be, it is still unclear if they will be enough to dismiss the current king of heaven. The Gulfstream brand can be prestigious enough to retain the loyalty of many of its customers.
And, as expected in the industry, it is very possible that Gulfstream will respond soon to Bombardier's move announcing the launch of a new program of its own.
"We will be watching this space for the next Gulfstream ad, ultimately, both are fantastic aircraft on top of private planes built for that purpose," says Twidell.