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Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - 9:52am

Gulfstream Rolls Out Its Newest Jet

Savannah-based jet manufacturer Gulfstream Aerospace rolled out its newest and fastest business plane on Tuesday.

The public unveiling of the G-650 took place in front of a crowd of about 7,000 people, including company workers and local dignitaries.

Gulfstream officials say the jet can fly faster than any business jet on the market. It's the company's largest and most advanced plane.

But it's what the jet represents to the local economy that drew the attention of the local press and public officials on Tuesday.

Earlier this year, the company laid off more than a thousand workers and furloughed many more.

It was shocking news to many in the community, who believed the luxury jet company, Savannah's largest employer, would remain immune to the recession. The company has about 6,000 workers.

Now company officials say that they believe their recession is behind them. The layoffs ended in July. And the company has 200 orders for the new jets, which are priced at $64 million each.

That should keep the G650 on target for taking to the sky in 2012. (The jet has to be tested next.) But it also should keep the Savannah area from worrying too much about the long-term health of one of its biggest economic engines.