On Track For Deliveries In 2012
OK, we'll admit that might be a bit of hyperbole, or a slow
bullet, but the Gulfstream G650 did fly at its proposed Mmo of
0.925 for the first time on Sunday, May 2.
File Photo G650 Test Airplane
The flight-test aircraft (S/N 6001) took off from Savannah at
1338 EDT with Gulfstream's Chief Test Pilot John O'Meara and Senior
Experimental Test Pilot Tom Horne at the controls. The aircraft
reached its top speed of Mach 0.925 while at 42,500 feet. The
business jet returned to Savannah at 1512 EDT.
"The G650 excelled at its top speed of Mach 0.925," O'Meara
said. "Even at near the speed of sound, the aircraft provides
stable and precise handling characteristics. It's very responsive
to pilot input with fantastic maneuver capabilities. Turns can be
initiated and completed without any onset of buffet. The engine
performance is extremely smooth. At the conditions flown today, the
entire operation was flawless. The aircraft's capabilities and
state-of-the-art technologies make it very easy to fly and will
enhance our customers' experience with their G650."
Gulfstream announced the G650 program on March 13, 2008,
indicating that the clean-sheet aircraft - Gulfstream's first since
the GII - would be capable of flying Mach 0.925, making it the
world's fastest transport-category aircraft in the sky.
The G650 rolled out under its own power - another Gulfstream
first - on Sept. 30, 2009. Its first flight was on Nov. 25, 2009.
The second flight-test aircraft - S/N 6002 - followed on Feb. 25.
As of mid-April, the two aircraft have completed nearly 50 flights
and approximately 140 flight-test hours.
G650 Roll Out
The five G650 aircraft involved in the flight-test program are
expected to perform an estimated 1,800 hours of testing. Each
aircraft is used for a specific series of tests with S/N 6001
focused on performance and flight controls, S/N 6002 on systems and
S/N 6003 on avionics, including communication and navigation. The
two production aircraft in the test program - S/N 6004 and S/N 6005
- will be used to evaluate interior systems and be part of the
reduced vertical separation minimum (RVSM) testing.
S/N 6003 has been transferred to the Flight Test department for
outfitting in preparation for its first flight, while 6004 and 6005
are in final production and major assembly, respectively.
Meanwhile, the aircraft has also successfully completed all
structural limit load testing required by the FAA and EASA.
File Photo First Flight
The G650 passed limit load testing on its primary structural
components, including fuselage, wing, vertical and horizontal
stabilizers, main landing gear, nose landing gear and all control
surfaces. During this phase of the static load testing, the new
advanced fly-by-wire flight-control system passed certification
tests for proper operation while under the limit load condition.
The limit load represents the maximum load the aircraft should
experience during its life cycle. The G650 will be tested to
ultimate load, which is 50 percent more than the limit load.
"As the test program continues, so, too, do our
accomplishments," said Pres Henne, senior vice president, Programs,
Engineering and Test, Gulfstream. "Completing the limit load
structural testing is a key milestone that will allow flight
testing at the maximum operating speeds of 340 KCAS and Mach 0.925
and to the maximum dive speeds of 385 KCAS and Mach 0.990.
We're excited to reach this stage. On all fronts, the G650 is
performing extremely well."
"The state-of-the-art manufacturing processes we developed for
this aircraft are making a definite difference in terms of build
quality," said Dennis Stuligross, senior vice president,
Operations, Gulfstream. "We have already witnessed enhanced quality
and precision due in part to automation, modular manufacturing and
Testing also continues in the G650 Integration Test Facility
(ITF) at Gulfstream's Savannah headquarters. Engineers have been
using the facility to integrate the software and hardware for the
aircraft's systems and to perform the human-factors testing
required for certification. In a Gulfstream first, the ITF also
includes a full-size mock-up of the G650 cabin systems to support
Gulfstream's Cabin Essential design philosophy, which ensures that
systems are designed with redundancy to prevent single-point
The aircraft is expected to receive certification from the FAA
and the EASA in 2011. It is on schedule to enter service in