Enes Kocatopçu (EK): Before the pandemic, how would you evaluate the business jet industry? What were the global trends in the business jet industry at that time?
Scott Neal (SN): Gulfstream entered the pandemic with an innovative product line, strong business and a great deal of interest in our products around the world, all of which have helped us weather the crisis. We are in a strong position thanks to our geographically diverse distribution of products, our unmatched customer service and outstanding support.
As far as trends, business-jet customers around the world are showing increased interest in the ultralong-range, large-cabin aircraft Gulfstream offers – the G500, G600, G650, G650ER and G700. This portfolio provides a compelling mix of range capabilities at high speeds, so customers can choose an aircraft that best fits their mission requirements.
We also see continued interest in our super-midsize G280 for customers who need a nimble aircraft for shorter trips and one that can access hard-to-reach airports and does so with the performance features of a large-cabin aircraft.
EK: How has COVID-19 affected the Business Jet Industry? How would you evaluate this effect on operators and private ownership?
SN: The COVID-19 crisis and its impact on travel really make the case for business aviation. Business-jet operators and passengers have much more control over schedules and routes as well as health and safety when traveling on a private jet.
EK: What has changed in the customer experience during COVID-19? In terms of customer experience, what changes do you expect in the business jet industry post-COVID-19?
SN: Customers have become increasingly interested in features of the cabin environment that enhance health and wellness. Gulfstream leads the industry in providing a healthy cabin experience with 100% fresh, never recirculated air, low cabin altitudes, whisper-quiet noise levels and an abundance of natural light thanks to Gulfstream’s large, panoramic windows.
Gulfstream has recently added even more enhancements to the signature Gulfstream Cabin Experience with an air ionization system. Gulfstream’s plasma ionization system, which operates whenever the aircraft environmental control system is active, works by emitting positive and negative oxygen ions that actively seek out and inactivate harmful molecules in the air and on surfaces.
The plasma system is available as a retrofit on the Gulfstream G650 and G650ER, G550, G450 and GV models, with additional installation options pending foreign certification. International certifications are currently in development.
EK: Does Gulfstream plan to expand its service network (maintenance center) geographically?
SN: Over the past few years, Gulfstream Customer Support has been expanding significantly around the world, and we have recently seen a number of new service center openings. In July, our new service center in Farnborough, England, opened, following U.S.-based expansions in Savannah, Georgia; Van Nuys, California; and Appleton, Wisconsin.
These new expansions allow us to enhance service opportunities for our customers and construct even bigger hangars to accommodate the large-cabin Gulfstream aircraft that are in high demand around the world. The new facility at Gulfstream Farnborough, for example, can accommodate up to 13 G650, G650ER or G700 aircraft, once the G700 enters service.
EK: What do you think the most important difference is between you and your competitors?
SN: Gulfstream is a financially strong company, thanks to the backing of our parent company, General Dynamics.
With General Dynamics’ support, Gulfstream has consistently invested in research and development that has allowed us to bring new technologies to the industry. The G500, G600 and G700 are the latest results of that research and development and feature the Symmetry Flight Deck, the most technologically advanced flight deck in the industry, with the only electronically linked active control sidesticks, most extensive use of touchscreen technology and the most robust data concentration network. These are all great safety differentiators for pilots and passengers.
EK: Is there a new Gulfstream aircraft model project in the near or far future?
SN: Our focus is to continue to deliver our outstanding products around the world, increasing deliveries of the G500 and G600 and continuing to progress the flight-test program of the new industry flagship G700.
EK: What would you say about the business jet industry in Turkey?
SN: Gulfstream has seen good interest from potential and existing customers in Turkey and is optimistic about the growth of the business-jet industry in the region. The market has responded well to Gulfstream’s large-cabin, long- and ultralong-range aircraft offerings.
EK: Do you have any advice for the business jet industry in Turkey?
SN: As the world emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, we expect the business-jet industry to see interest in flying privately increase. It’s important to continue to innovate and ensure a solid support system and access for operators in the years to come