Excellent choice for business applications and special missions

Show: India Aviation - Day 1

India continues to be a steady market for Gulfstream. Presently, it has 22 aircraft flying in India and the numbers are up on the rise. Giving details of the plans in India is Jason Akovenko, Regional Vice President (Asia-Pacific) of Gulfstream, to Editor-in-Chief Jayant Baranwal. Excerpts of the interview:

Jayant Baranwal (Baranwal): Could you tell us about your presence in India Aviation and what will you be showcasing at the event?

Jason Akovenko (Akovenko): We’ll have two aircraft on display at India Aviation, our entry-level Gulfstream G150 and the flagship of our fleet, the Gulfstream G650ER.

Baranwal: How many Gulfstream jets are flying in India at the moment and what do you see is going to be the numbers in another five years?

Akovenko: We have 22 aircraft flying in India. While we don’t project or forecast sales, we can tell you that India continues to be a steady market for Gulfstream. It is an influential player in the global marketplace, and the need for private aviation becomes ever so important to enhance business efficiency and increase productivity. According to the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), India is projected to become the world’s third largest aviation market by 2020.

Baranwal: Which are the sectors that will contribute to the growth of business aviation in India and are you talking to these sectors to understand their needs?

Akovenko: Gulfstream aircraft are most popular with publicly/privately held and Fortune 500 companies, so we’ll continue to focus our efforts on companies based in India that require safe, efficient, reliable travel in order to expand their business interests around the world. In terms of working with them to understand their needs, listening to our customers is a big part of Gulfstream’s culture, whether it’s working with potential customers to determine the best aircraft for their particular requirements or gathering feedback from current customers about what they’d like to see in a new Gulfstream aircraft model. So, we definitely connect with customers and potential customers in India (and around the world) to understand what they need from a private aircraft. Ultimately, India is a consistent market for Gulfstream. We look to India for sustained long-term growth because of its expanding economy, business interests and renewed confidence by business leaders within India and beyond.

Baranwal: How would you counter to the perception that business aircraft are only meant for rich class and their travel purposes?

Akovenko: That perception is misleading. In fact, the majority of Gulfstream customers are publicly/privately held and Fortune 500 companies, because their needs align with the capabilities business aviation provides: safe, reliable, flexible transportation almost anywhere in the world. For those same reasons, our aircraft make excellent special mission platforms, with more than 195 aircraft in government’/special mission use in 38 countries. Twenty-six countries use aircraft to transport heads of state. Gulfstream aircraft have a low-cost of operations (low fuel burn, easy to maintain); they offer range, speed and endurance; they have high cruise altitudes/areas of coverage; and they offer operational readiness/reliability. All of this makes them an excellent choice for both special mission and business applications.

Baranwal: What needs to be done to prop up general aviation/business aviation in India, from an OEM perspective?

Akovenko: We have already realised some improvements within India’s business aviation industry in terms of permits, processing and operations. But, as it does in many other areas of the world, business aviation in India competes for aviation resources. Continued development of airport infrastructure, expanding airspace utilisation and reducing bureaucratic requirements are key to expanding business aviation and realising one of its key benefits: flexibility.

Baranwal: It is said that most Indian corporates tend to buy second-hand jets, is it so and do you think this trend could change if policies are conducive?

Akovenko: I think changing policies would have an overall effect on the business aviation industry, which would ultimately impact both new and preowned aircraft sales. Enhancing the business aviation infrastructure and streamlining the requirements for using business aviation would make the country more amenable to business aviation. In turn, this could result in increased sales of both new and used aircraft.

Baranwal: Are the policies of the present government conducive for business aviation growth? In the light of this do you see sales to go up and the sectors that will prop up sales?

Akovenko: India is working to establish the appropriate regulations and infrastructure necessary to ensure private aviation’s continued growth. We continue to see changes and updates to policies impacting private aviation, including a possible reduction in import duty taxes, changes to charter operation regulations and the relaxing of taxes on jet fuel. The continued growth in India will require a reduction in taxes, streamlining rigorous importation requirements and the need to enhance the existing infrastructure for private aviation, including airports and fixed-base operators.

Baranwal: Any new innovation/unique feature is coming up within Gulfstream jets (for example, G650 has the widest windows in the world, if I am correct)?

Akovenko: The G650ER does have the largest windows in business aviation. So, too, do our new G500 and G600, which share those same windows. The G500 and G600 offer the most optimised combination of speed, range, technology and efficiency. Speed is one of the biggest differentiators for the G500 and G600 with a high-speed cruise of Mach 0.90 and a maximum operating speed of Mach 0.925. Only Gulfstream aircraft have the ability to go so far so fast. The G500, for example, provides non-stop access between Mumbai and London. Additionally, the G500 and G600 feature Gulfstream’s revolutionary new Symmetry Flight Deck, the most advanced, stylish, comfortable and intuitive in business aviation. The cutting-edge technology comes in the form of active control side-sticks (ACSs), integrated touch-screen controllers, a next-generation enhanced vision system (EVS) and Honeywell Primus Epic avionics. The industry-first ACSs offer enhanced safety and situational awareness over passive sticks through tactile feedback. With electronic linking of the ACSs, the pilot and co-pilot can see and feel each other’s control inputs, which helps improve pilot coordination in the cockpit.

Adding to the pilots’ more intuitive interaction with the aircraft are 10 integrated touch-screens, which will be used for system controls, flight management, communication, checklists and monitoring weather and flight information. The G500 and G600 incorporate a third-generation Gulfstream EVS, the Synthetic Vision-Primary Flight Display system and Head-Up Display II.

Baranwal: Which one is the fastest selling jet by Gulfstream and why?

Akovenko: Throughout 2015, Gulfstream received orders for all in-production aircraft. In fact, there were more orders for in-production aircraft in 2015 than there were in 2014. That said, we have seen particularly strong demand for the Gulfstream G650 and G650ER, which offer unsurpassed speed and range.

Baranwal: Are there areas where the business jet manufacturers can look at sourcing from India, to serve the growing Asia-Pacific markets?

Akovenko: We welcome efforts by Indian companies to develop infrastructure and services to help business aviation grow around the region. In terms of Gulfstream’s manufacturing capabilities, we announced two significant facility expansions in the US in 2006 and 2010 that include additional production capacity to support the introduction of the G500 and G600. At this time, our manufacturing capacity is sufficient to meet worldwide demand.