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What's The Big Secret About Gulfstream Aerospace's New P42 Jet?

Jim Probasco

Following a The Wall Street Journal report that General Dynamics Corporation (NYSE: GD) subsidiary, Gulfstream Aerospace Corp., would unmask a new business jet Tuesday, speculation about the aircraft has kept Wall Street analysts busy.

The jet's anticipated appearance was unusual primarily because its development had been under the type of secrecy veil normally reserved for military fighter jets or the next gizmo from Apple Inc.

Code-named the P42, the aircraft was expected to be a high-end business jet. Beyond that, not much was known.

Related Link: Closer Look: General Dynamics Corporation Deal Is The Largest Single Order From U.K. In 30 Years

G650 Genus

According to The Wall Street Journal, some analysts have said they believed much of the technology in the new P42 actually came from Gulfstream’s G650, an aircraft introduced in 2012 capable of flying up to 18 passengers.

In addition, the G650 had the longest range – 7,000 nautical miles – of any business jet currently available.

Long Range Lite

Some analysts speculated that the P42 (likely to be renamed after being unveiled) would be designed to appeal to corporate customers who didn’t require the 7,000+ nautical mile range of Gulfstream’s G650ER.

Instead, the new jet would likely have a range of about 5,000 nautical miles.

Gulfstream Keeping Mum

Benzinga reached out to Bernie Burns, founder and president of aircraft management and charter company, B2 Aviation for his take on the new aircraft from Gulfstream.

Burns said his contacts at Gulfstream were "not forthcoming at all" with information about the P42. He said this level of secrecy was unusual based on his many years of experience in aviation.

Marketing As Motivation

Echoing others, Burns said, "It has been my speculation that the new aircraft is a derivative of the G650 and all of its technology."

As for the reasons behind the secrecy, Burns said, "They are creating a unique marketing buzz around this which I think we can say has been successful."

Outside The Box

He also suggested that elements of the aircraft design could be a "game changer," worthy of the buzz that has been created.

If outside the box thinking was part of the process, said Burns, "I suspect heavy use of carbon fiber materials as with the ‘game changing’ Learjet 85."

Another tactic, Burns said, could be a material departure from some of the standard Gulfstream suppliers.

Something Completely Different

Burns did not think Tuesday's announcement would be simply an extended range version of an existing aircraft. It will likely be "a new product roll out."

"Like most long range Gulfstream products," Burns said, "the super elite of the world will make up the majority of the order book."

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From an aircraft management perspective, Burns said the new jet could be of interest to some of B2 Aviation’s top clients.

Although it probably would not fit into the company’s current charter mission, Burns said, "We will absolutely keep our eyes and ears open to see if this is something we should get in line for on behalf of those customers."

At the time of this writing, Jim Probasco  had no position in any mentioned securities.

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