Jet maker starts HK flight school
Gulfstream has set up the first flight training centre in Asia at Chek Lap Kok airport, to cater to the rapid growth of private jets in the Asia- Pacific region.
The Savannah-based jet manufacturer joined hands with flight training company FlightSafety to set up a US$21 million facility at Cathay Pacific City in Lantau. It features a computerised simulator for Gulfstream G450 and G550 aircraft, serving approximately 16 private-jet operators in Hong Kong, the mainland and other parts of the region.
With this move, Gulfstream, which takes nearly half the market share in the Asia-Pacific private-jet market, becomes the first to set up a business-jet flight-training centre in the region.
Approximately 80 Gulfstream aircraft are operated in Hong Kong and the mainland, of a total of 175 in the Asia-Pacific region. The company picked Hong Kong for its strategic location midway between Beijing and Australia, centre manager David Davenport said.
A second training centre would be set up in the region when the number of Gulfstream aircraft approached 200, Davenport said. The new facility would likely be on the mainland.
In addition to private training, Jet Aviation, a sister company of Gulfstream, is in talks with a potential mainland partner to set up a private-jet chartering company joint venture on the mainland. Beijing or Tianjin was likely to be the base for this company, said Joe Lombardo, president of the aerospace group of General Dynamics, the parent of Gulfstream and Jet Aviation.
However, no timetable had been set for the new company as the talks are still at a preliminary stage, Lombardo added.
On the heels of a good year, Gulfstream saw its backlog for new orders increase to US$17.9 billion at the end of December. The buyers will need to wait for one to two years for new planes. For the newly released G650, the backlog runs all the way to the second quarter of 2017.
Larry Flynn, president of Gulfstream, said that for buyers who wanted private jets right away, Gulfstream was offering the option to acquire pre-owned private jets before getting access to its new aircraft.
The earliest a potential buyer could take delivery on a Gulfstream G650, its newest business jet, due to a backlog in orders