Working weekends really sucks. Except last Sunday when Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. invited me to sample its demonstrator G450, which has winged its way to Singapore for the Airshow. The aircraft features the Elite interior, an all-new optional package, incorporating elements from the company’s flagship G650. It is also available for G550 aircraft.
The day started pretty well. Journalists on the tradeshow daily newspaper circuit generally leave for the show site at horribly-early o’clock. The joy of the lie-in, plus the pleasure of knowing my colleagues were already at hard it in the newsroom set a solid foundation for a good trip. An amusing taxi ride, and a meander through the burgeoning developing Seletar Aerospace Park to the Jet Aviation business aviation terminal bolstered my good mood.
So what of the flight? The cabin is frankly lovely – and totally appeals to my taste. The sleek clean design features white leather seats (“stone grey,” according to Gulfstream, but to my untrained eye they looked “white”). These are offset by black high gloss wood and matte silver finishes on the window controls. I knew the invisible stuff was working well as one of my fellow passengers managed to tweet from the cabin. However, user ineptitude meant I didn’t log on to the WiFi with my iPhone, so I couldn’t send my incisive commentary to Twitter. I also knew from the press release that the company’s new Cabin Management System (CMS) includes digital control through Apple devices, meaning passengers can download an app that allows them to manipulate lighting, temperature, speakers, monitors, entertainment, window shades, and even call the flight attendant. I didn’t do any of this, but can testify the flight was exceedingly quiet, the window shades worked beautifully and the lighting was superb.
Apparently there is an option for motorized seats, too, although since I was in the jump seat for most of the flight I didn’t play with these. The passenger seats sport heated cushions, a massager, and press-and-hold controls for full upright and full flat positions.
However, mostly I was in the least comfortable chair in the house, fascinated by what the pilots were doing with the Honeywell-based PlaneView cockpit, and enjoying the super-lightweight Telex headset they gave me to wear. I shan’t pretend any great technical understanding, but I recognized some flight instruments on the three multifunction display units, plus various ATC instructions and the fact that the climb out was smooth and incredibly fast.
We were at our given departure altitude of 3,000 feet in seconds, and Captain Heime and First Officer Wendy kindly showed me some of the functions on offer in the cockpit. These included fault diagnostics, the Enhanced Vision System, and the Jeppesen database of maps.
After hogging the pilots for the best part of the flight, I meandered down to the galley in search of some of the fancy food on offer. Fans of gourmet cooking would appreciate the spacious kitchen, which houses a stainless-steel appliance stack with two coffee makers, a microwave and a convection oven, plus a refrigerator with freezer and removable shelves. There are touch controls built into the walls and the hinged doors on the crystal storage unit can also double as an added work surface.
With such opulence on board, the flight was all too short. Trust me, if every working weekend were like this, I’d pay to go to the office.