Federal Aviation Administration clears Gulfstream G600 private jet

The Federal Aviation Administration recently approved the Gulfstream G600 private business jet from General Dynamics. The approval was "remarkable," the Gulfstream president said, because the FAA approved the company's G500 model a year ago. (SeongJoon Cho / Bloomberg)

Defense contractor based in Falls Church, Virginia, General Dynamics, recently won approval from federal regulators to produce and sell its new private jet for business, the Gulfstream G600, paving the way for initial deliveries by the end of the year.

The approval marks the first complete certification of the Federal Aviation Administration of a new commercial aircraft since the controversy over the Boeing 737 Max questioned the certification practices of the agency. An FAA spokesman said the G600 revision "complied with all current regulations and certification requirements," and also noted that there are "multiple ongoing internal and external reviews" of the FAA certification process.

General Dynamics executives said the plane's test program included almost 100,000 hours of laboratory flight and 3,200 hours of flight time in the air.

"These rigorous and thorough certification processes ensure that we deliver a first clbad aircraft that exceeds expectations," said Mark Burns, president of General Dynamics' Gulfstream subsidiary, in a statement. "Even more remarkable is the fact that we obtained these concurrent certifications less than a year after completing another major program, certifying and delivering the Gulfstream G500, another testimony of the engineering experience and manufacturing excellence that are characteristic of Gulfstream." .

The G600 is designed to fly faster and farther than previous Gulfstream models, something the company hopes will in some cases eliminate the need for a second crew on long-haul flights. It is designed to be more fuel efficient than previous models.

It is important for the broader aerospace ambitions of the company. While General Dynamics once built military aircraft, including the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the company's military product lines now mainly produce hardware for land and sea. The company bought Georgia-based aircraft manufacturer Gulfstream in 1999 and is now the backbone of the company's aerospace business unit.

Revenues for the company's aerospace business increased 23 percent in the company's last quarter, leading the business segment to $ 2.24 billion in revenues for the quarter. Gulfstream deliveries for the most recent quarter increased to 34 units from 26 a year earlier, the company reported in late April. It is the only part of the business that does not come from government contracts.

General Dynamics CEO Phebe Novakovic recently said in a call with investors that the G600 should have higher profit margins than previous aircraft models because of its similarity to the G500, which was certified a year ago.

In response to an badyst's question, she said the 20 percent margins on the plane are "achievable."

"Margins are going to increase very well … in the future," Novakovic said in a call with investors on May 30.

About two-thirds of Gulfstream's global customers are corporations, which use private aircraft to transport executives from around the world. The other third are wealthy people, Novakovic said in a recent call with investors.

While the company has not released figures on its order book, executives have said that the G600 model and the G500 model have a combined order book of more than 100 aircraft.

The company has said that its first delivery order is expected by the end of the year.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Gulfstream is based in Florida. It is based on Savannah, Ga.

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