Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

$58.5 Million Carries You in Style; Gulfstream's Latest Jet Offering Won't Be Ready until 2012, Though

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

$58.5 Million Carries You in Style; Gulfstream's Latest Jet Offering Won't Be Ready until 2012, Though

Article excerpt

Byline: LAUREN NARDELLA

SAVANNAH - Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. unveiled plans Thursday for the longest-range, highest-speed, largest-cabin aircraft the company has ever built. The price to experience that distance, quickness and comfort firsthand starts at $58.5 million.

Gulfstream announced its newest business jet, the G650, at the new manufacturing facility at its Savannah headquarters. The aircraft is expected to take its first test flight in 2009 and will be available for consumer purchase in 2012.

The company will likely add an amount of employees "in the hundreds" to its Savannah facility where the new G650 will be produced, said Gulfstream President Joe Lombardo.

Gulfstream's master plan announced in March 2006 called for the hiring of 1,100 employees over the following seven years. That goal already has been met, said Robert Baugniet, director of corporate communications.

"We've had, since we announced our facility master plan, over 1,000 new employees come into this facility," Lombardo said. "About 150 of those came out of the technical institutes we have [in Savannah]. It's worked out very well for us, training people, bringing them in."

The company's partnership with Savannah is beneficial for all, said Lynn Pitts, senior vice president of the Savannah Economic Development Authority.

"It's nothing but positive for the whole region," he said. "This isn't just good for Savannah, this is good on a world stage.

"High-tech manufacturing is not going away. It takes a highly skilled workforce. That's where Savannah Tech takes a role."

Current Gulfstream employees likely will not be shifted to work on the new aircraft.

"This is not a replacement for an airplane; we have very high rates of production right now on existing large cabin aircraft," Lombardo said. "And so we're not going to be taking hundreds of people off that line and putting them over here because we have to keep that line going. …

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