The Gulfstream 550 is a world traveling favorite of the charter and corporate flight department community.
There are more than 460 Gulfstream G550 business jets in service and the people who own and operate them say the aircraft is a top performer, a multipurpose mainstay offering solid dispatch reliability and backed by Gulfstream’s well-known product support.
The G550 has four main improvements over its ancestor the GV: improved takeoff performance, a slight improvement in range and fuel efficiency, a bigger cabin and the PlaneView flight deck featuring Honeywell Primus Epic avionics.
A seventh pair of windows is added to the fuselage and the entry door is moved 2 ft. forward to increase usable cabin length and boost net cabin volume by 58 cu. ft. This adjustment was made possible because the G550 needs less room to store its more modern avionics.
First Rate Performance
Powered by two Rolls-Royce engines the Gulfstream G550 has a cruise range of 6,750 nautical miles. The G550 flies from Seoul to Los Angeles or New York to Cairo nonstop at Mach 0.80. London to Tokyo or to San Francisco can be done nonstop at Mach 0.85. This ability to fly nonstop more than 12 hours means less fuel stops, giving the 550 added efficiency and cost effectiveness.
The Rolls-Royce BR700-710 turbofans installed on the 550 produce 635 lb. more takeoff thrust than they did for the GV. Because of the aircraft’s relatively low wing loading, the thrust-to-weight ratio of the aircraft results in shorter takeoff field lengths. The G550 needs less than 6,000 ft. of runway assuming sea level standard-day conditions.
Abundant natural light and fresh air make those long legs more comfortable and enjoyable for passengers. Low-altitude pressurization takes less of a physical toll on passengers, helping them arrive at their destinations refreshed and ready.
Most fight crews say they climb directly to FL 400 or FL 410 on long-range flights, estimating a fuel burn of 4,600 to 5,100 lb. for the first hour, decreasing to around 3,000 lb. for the second hour and decreasing to 2,400 lb. for the last hour of the mission.
While the 550 can carry 12 to 18 passengers, depending upon the passenger cabin layout, most companies carry two to five people on most of their flights.
Gulfstream began offering 12 “select” interior layouts with standardized seating, furnishings and plumbing. These layouts satisfy most customers, although for more money a custom interior can be installed.
Passenger options include additional cabin entertainment flat-screen monitors, Nespresso machines for the galleys, Inmarsat SwiftBroadband or Ku-band satcom broadband multilink data communications, a hinged shelf in the aft baggage compartment and a solid pocket door for privacy in the optional aft stateroom.
A Professional Pilot’s Paradise
Pilots love flying this aircraft. The GV/G550 has a higher power boost ratio on the ailerons than GIV series aircraft, along with higher deflection roll spoilers. The design features reduce roll control effort and provide crisper roll response.
In the cockpit, most operators choose the synthetic vision (SVS) for the PFDs, the enhanced navigation system providing WAAS/SBAS/LPV approach and circling approach guidance, plus electronic charts, along with Honeywell’s Runway Awareness Advisory System (RAS) and flight crew emergency vision assurance system (EVAS).
The G550 cockpit is outfitted with a triple-redundant flight management system that allows pilots to have command of enhanced, essential flight data. Using two side-mounted Gulfstream-designed Cursor Control Devices (CCDs), pilots can select and scroll where and how they want to see airways, airports, navigational aids and radar data.
The innovative Head-Up Display (HUD) projects flight data to a transparent screen in the pilot’s forward field of vision. Aviators know that each turn of the head or every change in the field of vision affects situational awareness. HUD keeps pilots focused on the skies ahead.
When vision is reduced or obscured, the Enhanced Vision System (EVS) leverages infrared imaging technology to display what the human eye cannot see. EVS captures clearer images of runway markings, taxiways and surrounding terrain, and then displays those images on flight deck screens or the head-up display.
Synthetic Vision-Primary Flight Display, an option in the G550, combines three-dimensional graphics of terrain overlaid with flight data to give pilots improved situational awareness of their surroundings, even in zero-visibility conditions.
The G550 is one of the strongest performers in the large-cabin class, and operators say reliability tops their list of five favorite features. Gulfstream says the aircraft indeed has achieved 99.92% dispatch reliability, one of the highest of any group of aircraft we’ve yet surveyed.
The G550 has been Gulfstream’s most popular model in the past fifty years. Operators say that this aircraft can be expensive to operate, but dispatch reliability, versatility and product support virtually are without equal.
GULFSTREAM 550 BY THE NUMBERS:
Maximum Range: 6,750 nm
High-Speed: Mach 0.87
Long-Range: Mach 0.80
MMO: Mach 0.885
Takeoff Distance: 5,910 ft
Landing Distance: 2,770 ft
Initial Cruise Altitude: 41,000 ft
Maximum Cruise Altitude: 51,000 ft
Max Takeoff: 91,000 lb
Max Landing: 75,300 lb
Max Zero Fuel: 54,500 lb
Basic Operating: 48,300 lb
Max Fuel: 41,300 lb
Length: 96 ft 5 in
Overall Span: 93 ft 6 in
Height: 25 ft 10 in
Total Interior Length: 50 ft 1 in
Cabin Length: 43 ft 11 in
Cabin Height: 6 ft 2 in
Cabin Width: 7 ft 4 in
Cabin Volume: 1,669 cu ft
Baggage Compartment Volume: 226 cu ft
Avionics: Gulfstream PlaneView™
Engines: Two Rolls-Royce BR710 C4-11
Rated Takeoff Thrust: 15,385 lb each
Passengers: Up to 18