- 01 Jan 2021
- Mike Chase
- Jets Comparison
How do the Gulfstream G600 and Dassault Falcon 8X compare side-by-side? What are the advantages offered by each model? Mike Chase analyses the performance and productivity parameters.Back to Articles
Over the following paragraphs we’ll consider key productivity parameters for the Gulfstream G600 and Dassault Falcon 8X (including payload, range, speed, and cabin size) to establish which aircraft provides the better value towards the top end of the Large Jet market.
Do speed and range drive a decision to buy a jet, or are lower operating costs (variable cost per hour and cost per mile) more desirable? It is hoped that the following jet comparison will help clarify.
The Gulfstream G600 is a new business jet on the market, having entered service in 2019 when it replaced the Gulfstream G550. Powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney PW815GA engines, each producing 15,680 pounds of thrust (lbst), the G600 can reach a maximum altitude of 51,000 feet. It needs 5,900 feet to take-off when fully loaded, but can stop in 2,550 feet.
Alongside the Gulfstream G650ER, G650 and the all-new Gulfstream G500, the G600 shares a maximum operating speed of Mach 0.925.
The advanced ventilation system installed in the cabin of the G600 by Gulfstream is capable of replacing the air with 100% fresh air in just two minutes, helping reduce the effects of jet lag.
Meanwhile, in the cockpit the jet is equipped with the ‘fly-by-wire’ flight system that provides calibrated flight controls, autothrottles and autobrakes to ensure peak engine performance and smoother, safer landings. The EVS is linked to a head-up display that projects the EVS view onto a transparent screen in the pilot’s forward field of vision.
As of this writing, there were 39 Gulfstream G600 business jets wholly-owned, and one in shared ownership, giving a total of 40 jets in operation worldwide. The majority of the fleet was based in the United States.
Dassault Falcon 8X
Unveiled in May 2014, the most recent Falcon to enter the market within a growing business jet family entered into service in October 2016, after receiving both EASA and FAA certification.
The aircraft has a range of 6,450 nautical miles (with eight passengers and three crew, at Mach 0.8), which is 715nm more than the Falcon 7X. The extra range comes courtesy of an additional center-fuselage fuel tank, and a lighter, redesigned wing. The reworked wing also keeps the Falcon 8X competitive on short runways: It needs 5,880 feet to take-off when fully loaded, but can stop in 2,220 feet.
The three Pratt & Whitney Canada PW307D engines have been optimized to offer 6,722lbst each. The Falcon 8X also has a service ceiling of 51,000 feet. The cockpit features the new EASy III glass-panel digital avionics, which are built around the Honeywell Primus Epic System and the Elbit head-up display, combining enhanced and synthetic vision.
Since deliveries began there were 70 Dassault Falcon 8X business jets that are wholly owned, with 15 of the fleet being based in the United States.
Payload & Range Comparison
When comparing business jets, an important area for potential operators to focus on is payload capability, and especially the ‘Available Payload with Maximum Fuel’. Table A shows the Gulfstream G600’s ‘Available Payload with Maximum Fuel’ to be 1,800lbs, which is less than the 1,959lbs offered by the Falcon 8X.
TABLE A: Gulfstream G600 vs Dassault Falcon 8X Payload Comparison
As shown in Chart A, the cabin height is the same for both aircraft at 6.2ft. However, the Dassault Falcon 8X cabin width is slightly greater than the G600 (7.7ft vs 7.6ft).
The Gulfstream G600 has a longer cabin than the Dassault Falcon 8X (45.2ft vs 42.7ft), and provides more overall cabin volume (1,884cu.ft versus 1,695cu.ft). These cabin volume measurements represent the net main seating areas, excluding the lavatory.
CHART A: Gulfstream G600 vs Dassault Falcon 8X Cabin Comparison
In addition, the G600 provides more internal luggage volume than the Falcon 8X (175cu.ft versus 140cu.ft). Neither jet offers external luggage space.
The Gulfstream G600 provides room for up to sixteen seats with four crew, while the Falcon 8X accommodates twelve seats with three crew in typical executive seating, and 14 in a high-density seating.
Using Little Rock, Arkansas, as the start point, Chart B shows the Gulfstream G600 has a range of 6,518nm with eight passengers and available fuel, compared to 6,450nm for the Dassault Falcon 8X.
CHART B: Gulfstream G600 vs Dassault Falcon 8X Range Comparison
Note: For business jets, ‘Eight Pax Range’ represents the maximum IFR range of the aircraft at long range cruise. The NBAA IFR fuel reserve calculation is for a 200nm alternate. This range does not include winds aloft or any other weather-related obstacles.
As mentioned, the Gulfstream G600 has two Pratt & Whitney PW815GA engines, providing 15,680lbst each. These burn 421 gallons of fuel/hour (gal/hr). By comparison, Dassault’s Falcon 8X has three Pratt & Whitney PW307D engines producing 6,722lbst each, and burning less fuel at 377gal/hr.
Cost per Mile Comparison
Chart C details ‘Cost per Mile’, factoring direct costs and with both aircraft flying a 6,000nm mission with a 1,600lbs (eight passengers) payload. The Falcon 8X has the lowest cost per nautical mile, at $9.95. This is 21.4% less than the Gulfstream G600 ($12.08 per nautical mile).
CHART C: Gulfstream G600 vs Dassault Falcon 8X Cost Per Mile Comparison
Variable Cost Comparison
The ‘Variable Cost’, illustrated in Chart D, is defined as the estimated cost of fuel, maintenance labor, scheduled parts, and miscellaneous trip expenses (e.g. hangar, crew and catering).
These costs DO NOT represent a direct source into every flight department and their trip support expenses. For comparative purposes, the costs presented are the relative differences, not the actual differences, since these may vary from one flight department to another. The Gulfstream G600 ($4,775/hr) has a higher variable cost than the Dassault Falcon 8X ($3,806/hr) – a difference of $969 (25.5%).
CHART D: Gulfstream G600 vs Dassault Falcon 8X Variable Cost Comparison
Market Comparison Table
Table B contains the new prices (per B&CA) for the Gulfstream G600 and the Dassault Falcon 8X. These were $58.5m and $60.0m, respectively, at the time of writing.
Also listed are the long-range cruise speed and range numbers (per Aircraft Bluebook), while the number of aircraft in-operation, the fleet percentage for sale, and average sold are from JETNET.
TABLE B: Gulfstream G600 vs Dassault Falcon 8X Market Comparison
At the time of writing, the Gulfstream G600 had one aircraft ‘for sale’ on the used aircraft market (representing 2.5% of the fleet). By comparison, there were three Falcon 8X jets ‘for sale’ (4.3% of the fleet).
The average number of new/used transactions (units sold) per month over the previous 12 months was three for the Gulfstream G600 and one for the Falcon 8X.
Aircraft that are owned and operated by businesses are often (in the U.S.) depreciable for income tax purposes under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS). Under MACRS, taxpayers can use accelerated depreciation of assets by taking a greater percentage of the deductions during the first few years of the applicable recovery period.
In certain cases, aircraft may not qualify under the MACRS system and must be depreciated under the less favourable Alternative Depreciation System (ADS), based on a straight-line method, meaning that equal deductions are taken during each year of the applicable recovery period. In most cases, recovery periods under ADS are longer than recovery periods available under MACRS.
There is a variety of factors that taxpayers must consider in determining if an aircraft may be depreciated and, if so, the correct depreciation method and recovery period that should be utilized. For example, aircraft used in charter service (i.e. Part 135) are normally depreciated under MACRS over a seven-year recovery period, or under ADS using a twelve-year recovery period.
Aircraft used for qualified business purposes, such as Part 91 business use flights, are generally depreciated under MACRS over a period of five years or by using ADS with a seven-year recovery period.
There are certain uses of the aircraft, such as non-business flights, that may have an impact on the allowable depreciation deduction available in any given year.
The US enacted the 2017 Tax Cuts & Jobs Act into law on December 22, 2017. Under the Act, taxpayers may be able to deduct up to 100% of the cost of a new or pre-owned aircraft purchased and placed in service before January 1, 2023.
This 100% expensing provision is a huge bonus for aircraft owners and operators. After December 31, 2022 the Act decreases the percentage available each year by 20% to depreciate qualified business jets until December 31, 2026.
Table C depicts an example of using the MACRS schedule for a 2021- model Gulfstream G600 in private (Part 91) and charter (Part 135) operations over five- and seven-year periods. The price is as published by Aircraft Bluebook at the time of writing.
TABLE C: Gulfstream G600 Sample Tax Depreciation Schedule
Table D depicts an example of using the MACRS schedule for a 2021- edition Dassault Falcon 8X in private (Part 91) and charter (Part 135) operations over five- and seven-year periods. The price is per Aircraft Bluebook.
TABLE D: Dassault Falcon 8X Sample Tax Depreciation Schedule
Asking Prices & Quantity
At the time of writing, there was one Gulfstream G600 business jet available for sale on the used aircraft market that invited offers. Of the three Dassault Falcon 8X jets available for sale on the used market, one had a $39m asking price while the other two invited offers.
While each aircraft serial number is unique, the Airframe Total Time (AFTT) and age/condition will cause great variation in the price of specific aircraft – even between two aircraft from the same year of manufacture. The final negotiated price remains to be decided between the seller and buyer before the sale of an aircraft is completed.
The points in Chart E are centered on the same aircraft. Pricing used in the horizontal axis is as published by Aircraft Bluebook. The productivity index requires further discussion since factors used can be somewhat arbitrary. Productivity can be defined (and it is here) as the multiple of three factors:
Others may choose different parameters, but serious business aircraft buyers are usually impressed with price, range, speed, and cabin size.
CHART E: Gulfstream G600 vs Dassault Falcon 8X Productivity Comparison
The Question of ‘What Matters More’?
The Gulfstream G600 offers a faster long-range speed and a longer range than the Falcon 8X. It also provides a greater cabin volume.
Although, the Dassault Falcon 8X has a higher price ($60.0m vs $58.5m), it offers a higher 'Available Payload with Maximum Fuel’, its hourly variable operating cost is 25.5% less, and the cost per mile is 21.4% less than the G600.
That cost per mile figure is based on both jets carrying eight passengers on a 6,000nm trip.
Prospective buyers need to weigh the capabilities of each aircraft very carefully against their specific mission need to determine which one is the best fit for their flight operations. And of course, further considerations will come into play once the G600 builds a track record in the pre-owned market, allowing prospective owners to compare how each aircraft is impacted by depreciation.
Within these paragraphs we have touched upon several of the attributes that business jet operators value when drawing up jet comparisons, although there are other key selling points, including the ultra-modern technologies each aircraft uses in the cockpit and cabin to enhance passenger and crew comfort along with flight safety.
Airport performance, terminal area performance and time-to-climb will also factor in a buying decision.
Ultimately, there is plenty for a prospective buyer to consider when deciding which performance criteria is better suited to them in an aircraft. Both the Gulfstream G600 and Dassault Falcon 8X offer great value in the market today.
To see all the jets and articles related to Gulfstream, please visit our Gulfstream Jets page.