Friday, March 14, 2008

Not So Fast ...

(Top: The New Gulfstream 650; bottom: the Citation X)

There's a big, pretty, full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal today for the in-development Gulfstream 650 business jet. And what a beauty it is, just in pure terms of design. (Please, no scolding letters from save-the-planeters. The last business jet I hitchhiked on crashed in a Brazilian rain forest, and I am abundantly aware of the multiple ironies involved.)

But there's also a story in the New York Sun (breathlessly linked to by, who else, Drudge) that makes it sound like the new Gulfstream jet will be the fastest thing beneath the sound barrier.

Ain't exactly so. Cessna's popular Citation X (pronounced "X" and not "Ten") , introduced 12 years ago, is far less roomy and has about half of the projected 7,000-mile range of the new G650 (and is also well under half the projected $60 million cost for the new Gulfstream) -- but it will be able to fly at essentially the same maximum speed: The Gulfstream will be able to clock in at a max Mach 0.925, compared with the Citation X's max of Mach 0.92 -- just under the sound barrier.

The Mach 0.92 bragging rights are a big reason the Citation X has been such a hot seller, despite a somewhat more cramped cabin than other jets in its model segment.

Besides, by the time the new Gulfstream starts coming off production lines in four years, an under-development new supersonic business jet might well be on the market.


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