Gulfstream Aerospace on Thursday unveiled plans to build the largest, fastest and most expensive private jet for delivery starting in 2012.
Gulfstream said its new G650 will be capable of flying nearly 700 mph, faster than a Boeing 747. It will seat 18, have a full kitchen and bar, and offer individualized entertainment, satellite phone service and wireless Internet access during the flight.
Passengers will be able to sip a cocktail at 51,000 feet, its maximum altitude, the company says.
"The G650 is in a brand new market by itself," said Gulfstream President Joe Lombardo.
At a base price of $58 million, it will cost about $10 million more than its predecessor, Gulfstream's G550. With a flying range of more than 8,000 miles, it will be capable of whisking heads of state, CEOs and other VIPs from New York to Tokyo or Buenos Aires non-stop.
"Gulfstream is staking out the top end," said aerospace analyst Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group. "There's always a part of the market that is willing to pay for the best and the biggest."
The new jet's cabin will be the largest ever — 8½ feet wide and 6-feet-5 high — but of relatively traditional metal construction, not man-made composite. The cabin will accommodate 18 passengers seated or eight sleeping in lie-flat beds.
The G650 will be powered by two new Rolls-Royce engines that will take the jet from Dubai to Chicago almost 90 minutes faster than existing long-range jets, Gulfstream says.
Yet because the jet will weigh less than 100,000 pounds, it will be able to land at small airports such as Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, near New York City, and avoid delay-plagued major airports such as New York John F. Kennedy and Chicago O'Hare.
The G650 will be built at Gulfstream's plant in Savannah, Ga. It is expected to make its first flight in 2009.
Gulfstream spokesman Robert Baugniet said 80% of Gulfstream's clients are companies, 12% are governments and 7% are high-worth individuals.
"These jets are no longer the purview of the CEO," he said.
Gulfstream, owned by General Dynamics, commands about a quarter of the $24 billion business jet market, but it accounts for more than half of the market for large-cabin, long-range corporate jets.