- 10 Jul 2023
- Jason Zilberbrand
- BizAv Market Insight
What’s the latest in the Super Large Business Jet segment? Who is leading the market, and what new products or variants are expected to be introduced soon? René Armas Maes provides an overview of the current field of competitors...Back to Articles
Current production models in the Super Large Business Jet segment include Bombardier’s Global 5500 and Global 6500, the Dassault Falcon 7X, Falcon 8X, and Gulfstream’s G600. Dassault’s Falcon 6X is due to enter the market this year.
The aircraft in the Super Large Jet segment offer a whole new level of range, comfort and capability. Purposely designed to enable high levels of comfort and productivity in-flight, jets in this category can be fitted with on-board dining areas and conference tables, dedicated rest areas for passengers and crew, and can incorporate the latest in cabin technology to promote optimal work, rest and play on longer flights.
The jets in this class provide a range between 5,500nm and 6,600nm, seat two crew and up to nineteen passengers if required, but are more typically configured for 13 to 14 passengers, per the specifications in Table A (see below).
Table A - Super Large Business Jet Performance and Specifications Table
In 1991 Bombardier launched its original Global Express platform with the promise of a 6,000nm range. The maiden flight was performed in 1996, and the aircraft was initially powered by two Rolls-Royce BR710 engines. Sharing a fuselage cross-section with the Challenger 600 model, it incorporated a new wing and tail design and proved highly popular on the market.
As the product developed, a shorter-range version was launched in the form of the Global 5000, and today, Bombardier offers the Global 5500/6500 variants that are powered by modern Rolls-Royce Pearl engines.
As of Summer 2023, Aircraft Bluebook provided a list-price of $47m for the shorter-range Global 5500 and $58m for the longer-range Global 6500.
According to AMSTAT’s database, at the time of writing 103 Global 5500 and Global 6500 units have been produced since 2019.
One of the big questions about Bombardier’s future strategy for this market revolves around the fact the original Global Express platform is now almost 30 years old (even older if you trace the airframe’s roots back to the Challenger 600). Some within the industry would argue Bombardier needs to produce a clean-sheet design eventually to remain competitive.
Gulfstream, meanwhile, unveiled its G600 in 2014 alongside the shorter-range G500. First flight of the G600 took place at the end of 2016 with deliveries beginning in 2017. According to Aircraft Bluebook’s Summer 2023 price data, a 2023-model G600 costs $59.5m.
The airframe of the Gulfstream G600 is similar to that of the G500 and G650, but the wingspan is eight feet wider than the G500 allowing for 10,000lbs additional fuel. Powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW815GA engines, it flies 6,500nm at long- range cruise.
Finally, Dassault offers the Falcon 7X and Falcon 8X for the Super Large Jet market. Providing a 5,950nm range, the 7X is currently the second largest of the Falcon jet line, though this will change with the OEM due to certify the 10X in the coming years.
Launched in 2001, the Falcon 7X entered service in 2007 to much acclaim, and according to AMSTAT 300 units had been built at the time of writing. Aircraft Bluebook’s Summer 2023 price data showed a 2023 model Falcon 7X costs $54.2m.
Meanwhile, the Falcon 8X provides a 6,450nm range and is Dassault's flagship Falcon product, though this will change when the OEM certifies the Falcon 10X in 2025. Aircraft Bluebook’s Summer 2023 price data shows a 2023 model Falcon 8X costs $59m.
Also included in our study is the Dassault Falcon 6X which is due to be certified imminently, becoming Dassault’s second aircraft for the market segment. Dassault has completed flight testing of its new aircraft, which promises a 5,500nm range. The Falcon 6X is a clean sheet design and is expected to be a key competitor in this high-margin segment.
A look at the GAMA shipment reports between 2018 and 2022 shows an average of 88 Super Large Jet units delivered annually between the OEMs with a stake in this market Table B (see below). The results include delivery estimates executed by the author.
Table B - Super Large Business Jet Shipments 2018-2022
Included within the data are Bombardier Global 6000 units that were shipped between 2018 and 2020. It is important to note that Bombardier’s Global 5500/6500 shipments dropped off somewhat in 2021 and 2022 (coinciding with the end of Global 6000 production). It will be interesting to see whether Global 5500 shipments are further impacted once the Falcon 6X reaches the market.
As depicted, the Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) across the segment is +0.7%, with Gulfstream enjoying +11.8%.
Variable Cost per Revenue Seat Mile vs. Range
Comparing our field of Super Large Jets, Chart A shows that the Falcon 7X offers the lowest variable cost (US$) per hour, per revenue seat mile among its peers flying below 6,000nm, while among the jets flying up to 6,450nm the Falcon 8X leads. However, the G600 and the GL6500 offer 2% more range than the Falcon 8X.
Chart A - Super Large Jet Variable Cost per Seat Mile vs Range
There are other factors to consider when buying a jet, however, including residual value, service support network, and the ability to upsize (if needed) while staying with a preferred brand (which in this case is something that all three OEMs offer).
Chart B (see below) represents a productivity index for the Super Large Jets in our analysis. The productivity index multiplies aircraft range (with NBAA reserves, and in a high-density seating configuration), cabin volume and long-range cruise speed, dividing the result by 1,000,000,000.
Chart B - Super Large Jet Productivity Index vs Price Summer 2023
As shown, the Bombardier Global 6500 offers the highest productivity index score of 7.5 while the Gulfstream G600 follows with a score of 7.0.
The Global 6500 has the advantage of a greater cabin volume than its competitor, and an additional 100nm of range.
Nevertheless, some buyers may prefer the fact that the G600 is a newer platform, while Gulfstream also garners a high level of brand loyalty from its customers.
So, what lies ahead in the Super Large Jet category? While Dassault has been busy with its Falcon 6X and Falcon 10X projects (the 10X is due to be certified in 2025), there is a case to be argued for Dassault to turn its focus towards a relatively low-investment, enlarged version of the Falcon 6X – perhaps as soon as the end of 2024 – to enhance its place at the Super Large Jet table.
The new variant would ideally need to be capable of flying 6,500nm, be priced below $58m, offer a Direct Operating Cost close to $5,000 per hour (estimating fuel at $7.5 per gallon), and provide a cabin volume comparable to the G600 of 1,885cu ft. (As a matter of fact, the Falcon 6X is already very close in terms of cabin size.)
If Dassault managed to produce a jet to meet such a market need, it would allow the company to remain competitive in the Super Large Jet market for the next decade at least.
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