Although one might imagine that the Beachcraft might me more suited to widespread use (and in the commuter market it definitely is), the actual fact is the Gulfstream seems to be more versatile for many applications including governmental, scientific, and corporate uses. Indeed, its amazing range and speed (it actually beat a Boeing 747 jumbo jet in January 1988 in an eastbound around-the-world trip -- clocking in at under 37 hours (8.5 hours faster than the Boeing) (Roger Guillemette, 2004).
The simple fact is, the Gulfstream IV is currently utilized by more than 158 government and military customers in addition to the more often associated business/corporate/individual customers. In fact, according to a leading pilot publication, "Gulfstream aircraft are in service with 34 nations in a variety of roles including photo reconnaissance, maritime surveillance, medical evacuation, weather research and astronaut training (Pilotfriend, 2004)." In fact, its high cruise altitude (especially for its size and class) combined with its fuel efficiency, and maneuverability (again, largely due to its size), allows it to be of particular use in scientific (especially weather and hurricane tracking) and military recognizance applications. Additionally, especially from a pilot point-of-view, the amazingly strident and efficient short-field takeoff characteristics of the craft as well as its peppy climbing capabilities open it up to a broad range of airport/airstrips and conditions that other crafts (including the Beachcraft) may not find as hospitable. Take, for example, the commentary of one "new" pilot (switching from a Jumbo after reaching mandatory retirement at 60):
While the G-IV is not the "hottest" corporate/charter aircraft around, it's no slouch. At first, I found acceleration shockingly quick at sea level, full thrust, cool day, and a light airplane! It took several dozen takeoffs before I was fully up to speed with the airplane; it's a real rocket. it's now routine, of course, but there are a lot of things going on, several calls to make, and it's easy to get behind. At high-elevation airports, heavy, on a hot day, the takeoff is more "stately." If you hear a Gulfstream pilot whine about poor performance when high, hot, and heavy, please understand, he's whining about less than 1,000 feet per minute on one engine. I sometimes feel like slapping a chokehold on, and dragging one of these guys out to the old C-46, loaded, on a hot day, and make him do an engine failure on takeoff, where he'd be lucky to get 50 feet per minute. 500 fpm up is pure LUXURY! it's all in the perspective, I guess (Deaken, 2003).
Of course, although many like to point out the widespread acceptance of the Gulfstream for governmental and military use worldwide as an indicator of its solid place in the worldwide aviation market, it still remains one of the mainstays of corporate America (as well as globally). In fact, it is estimated that approximately half of the Fortune 500 companies utilize the Gulfstream IV for their business needs (MAYA, 2004).
As previously stated, when examining the Beachcraft 1900D and the Gulfstream IV side by side, it may be tempting to rate them against each other. Of course this would be a huge mistake. The simple fact is, from an application point-of-view (as well as an operational point-of-view), the two aircraft are literally "two different birds." However, in examining them, it is possible to get a good handle on just what each craft is suited for in capabilities as well as use.
Again, the Beachcraft 1900D is first and foremost a commercial commuter aircraft. Although it can be (and is in many locations worldwide) fitted for other use, including military as well as cargo applications, its "claim to fame" is its ability to perform well in a commuter (that is short flight) setting.
With a runway requirement of 4500 feet, the Beachcraft can access smaller airports that larger airliners simply cannot land in. Additionally, its relatively quick climbing capability as well as responsiveness to adverse weather conditions allows it to access "tight" airports (ringed by mountains or other obstructions), as well as those prone to extreme weather fluctuations. Further, its high level of safety-minded system redundancy allows for ease of operation and low incidence of operational problems.
Although there is much in common between the Beachcraft and the Gulfstream discussed here, (especially with regard to size), the Gulfstream is hardly a commuter craft. Instead, as previously noted, the Gulfstream IV is first and foremost designated for high performance, long distance, and quick access to airports around the globe big and incredibly small. Indeed, it is perhaps this very quality that makes this craft so popular worldwide for both corporate as well as governmental applications.
Like the Beachcraft, the Gulfstream is incredibly agile in its takeoff, climb, and landing requirements. It is neither sluggish nor hampered by the need for long (or even particularly developed) runways. Further, like the Beachcraft, it can climb with a responsiveness that makes careful accent/decent planning of far less importance than might be the case with another aircraft. In addition, its long-range (approximately 4800 statute miles), and speed makes it the responsive and agile craft that is of particular importance to time sensitive business and/or governmental, military and scientific applications.
The simple fact is that on one hand, both of the aircraft discussed here are quite similar in many of the specifications and performance level -- however, one simply would not compare them based on their appropriateness for a single use. After all, the corporate/government/military wishing to acquire a craft based on agility, responsiveness, and adaptability simply would never choose a Beachcraft 1900D over a Gulfstream IV. So, too, an airline or government would hardly choose a Gulfstream to accomplish its commuter passenger service goals. However, there is no question that in each of their different applications, both the Beachcraft 1900D as well as the Gulfstream IV share some of the same characteristics that make them such popular aircraft worldwide.
In short, in many cases size does matter. Not only does the smaller yet powerful and agile aspects of both aircraft lend themselves to a wide breadth of use, but it also is far more accessible to smaller airlines, companies, and governments due to their cost and relative profitability (especially in the commuter Beachcraft). Further, because both airplanes focus so much on simplicity of design, reduction of parts, as well as an emphasis on redundant systems, the ease of operation from a pilot perspective is extremely high. Because of these characteristics, it is very likely that both the 1900D as well as the Gulfstream IV (or derivatives of them) will continue to enjoy a wide acceptance in both the aviation marketplace, as well as among the pilots trained to operate them.
Deaken, John. (2004). Gulfstream IV. Pelican's Perch Newsletter. No. 69-29 May, 2003.
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