Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. today recognized the 25th anniversary of the first flight of the Gulfstream IV, the best-selling large-cabin, long-range business jet in the world.
“The GIV was the aircraft that launched a thousand Gulfstream aircraft,” said Joe Lombardo, president, Gulfstream. “It formed the foundation for designing and building the G300, G400, G350 and G450. The aircraft’s first flight was a milestone and turning point for the company.”
Longtime Gulfstream employee Jim Gallagher, an acoustics engineer for the GIV program, said the aircraft revolutionized the industry. More than 520 of the 536 jets produced in the GIV series are still in operation.
“The GIV set a new standard for technology and, as it evolved, did the same for reliability,” said Gallagher, now director, Large and Mid-Cabin Sustaining program. “I believe it became very popular because it was on the leading edge of globalization. Halfway through its production run, the GIV became the preferred tool of global business-jet travelers because of its speed and range. There was no other aircraft that came close. Companies relied on it to travel worldwide; it helped push global commerce.”
On Sept. 19, 1985, three months ahead of schedule, the aircraft took off from Savannah International Airport, just eight days after it was rolled out at the business-jet manufacturer’s headquarters in Savannah. Lee Johnson and Ted Mendenhall were the pilot and copilot, respectively, for the one-hour flight.
The maiden flight was part of a race against time aimed at preparing the aircraft for the annual National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) convention in New Orleans, where it was one of the main attractions.
The GIV was popular with customers well before its first flight. More than 80 orders were taken while the aircraft was in development. At the time, the backlog of nearly .3 billion in orders was the biggest for a single aircraft in business-aviation history.
The first production GIV entered service June 8, 1987, after being certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on April 22, 1987. The GIV was designed to provide cost-effective, long-range transportation. For nearly two decades, the workhorse GIV was the long-range aircraft of choice for business-jet customers, including heads of state, private individuals, special missions and air charter companies worldwide.
The up-to19-passenger aircraft improved upon its predecessor, the Gulfstream III, by offering reduced noise and incorporating a larger fuselage and a lighter, more aerodynamic wing while improving the maximum range to 4,300 nautical miles (7,964 kilometers). It was the first business jet built with an all-glass cockpit, including state-of-the-art auto throttles, and offered a new concept at the time, a Flight Management System (FMS).
Powered by two Rolls-Royce Tay 611-8 engines, the GIV’s top speed is Mach 0.88 with a maximum takeoff weight of 73,200 pounds. It can reach an altitude of 45,000 feet.
The GIV, which featured the company’s trademark winglets established on the GIII, set numerous records for circumnavigating the globe, both east and west, including a January 1988 eastbound around-the-world trip in just under 37 hours.
As of today, the GIV series in-service fleet has accumulated more than 3.4 million hours of flight time and boasts a dispatch reliability rate of 99.93 percent. The other aircraft in the series are the GIV-SP (Special Performance), which features an updated landing package and range/payload improvements, and the C-20F/G/H military variants‎.
Ceremonies on Dec. 3, 2002, marked the conclusion of GIV-series aircraft production and the official start of production of two new variants — the G300 and G400. The last GIV entered service on Sept. 13, 2003.
In 2005, the G400 and G300 were replaced by the G450 and G350. On June 22, 2010, the 200th G450 obtained its Certificate of Airworthiness.