Grumman developed the Gulfstream I turbine powered executive transport to replace the many hundred war surplus piston twins performing such missions in the mid 1950s.
Design work began in 1956, with first flight of the Gulfstream I prototype occurring on August 14 1958. FAA Type certification was awarded on May 21 1959 and deliveries of production aircraft followed from that June. Notably, the Gulfstream I was the first US twin engined corporate transport to be certificated to cruise at 30,000ft.
As the first in the Gulfstream line, the GI established the basic fuselage cross section that carries through today to the Gulfstream IV and V. Other features were the RollsRoyce Dart turboprops which gave the I good high speed cruise performance and an auxiliary power unit allowing independent operations from remote strips, providing power for the air conditioning and electrical systems prior to engine start.
While primarily designed as a corporate transport, a large number of the standard fuselage Gulfstream Is were also used as commuter airliners, seating up to 24 passengers. Military Gulfstream Is were built for the US Navy (navigator training TC-4s) and US Coast Guard (VIP VC-4s). Production of the standard fuselage I ceased in 1969.
In 1979, by which time Grumman's design rights were purchased by the newly established Gulfstream American Corporation, Gulfstream began offering stretched airliner conversions of the base GI. These aircraft were stretched by 3.25m (10ft 8in), allowing seating for up to 38 passengers at three abreast. Known as the G-159C Gulfstream IC the first conversion flew on October 25 1979, and production conversions were delivered from November 1980. However, only five were converted.
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