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The 800mph Gulfstream G650 - fastest civil aircraft ever

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March 17, 2008

March 18, 2008 Since the 1960s, the Gulfstream jet has been synonymous with the fastest, ultra luxury business travel regardless of cost – only 1600 have ever been made but now, the company is raising the bar with a new ultra-large cabin G650 due in 2012. The US$58.5 million G650 is capable of traveling 7,000 nautical miles (8055 miles) at 0.85 Mach or 5,000 nautical miles (5,753 miles) at 0.90 Mach and has a top speed of 0.925 Mach, which will make it the fastest non-military aircraft flying. It will even cruise at 51,000 ft, in order to avoid airline-traffic congestion and adverse weather.

The G650 offers the longest range, largest cabin and the most-advanced cockpit in the Gulfstream fleet but the jet’s fastest operating speed is what’s drawing the attention – at .925 Mach, the jet approaches the speed of sound (Mach 1).

The US$58.5 million price is sadly in today’s dollars, so when it lands in 2012, the total price will be US$65 million.

Now a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics, Gulfstream is bullish about its prospects with the new aircraft. “This is an exciting time in Gulfstream’s history,” said Joe Lombardo, president, Gulfstream Aerospace. “For 50 years, our company has been on the forefront of business-jet aviation. I can think of no better way to celebrate our golden anniversary than to introduce the Gulfstream G650. Created with significant input from customers who participate in our Advanced Technology Customer Advisory Team, a subset of our Customer Advisory Board, the G650 offers the most advanced flight deck and the widest array of cabin comforts. Its performance and aesthetics are unprecedented.”

Based on the aircraft development schedule, the company projects it will receive Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Type Certification and validation by the European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) in 2011. The first flight of the aircraft is scheduled for the second half of 2009.

Comfort figures prominently into the G650. The unfinished aircraft cabin measures 102 inches wide and 77 inches high, making it the largest business-jet cabin available. The extra space allows for a longer living area, more seat recline, expanded leg room and increased stateroom capabilities as well as larger galleys, lavatories, storage and crew rest areas. An 84-inch-wide floor provides for larger seats, wider aisles and the ability to seat three across.

The G650 is designed to provide the most comfortable and productive cabin environment. A quieter cabin provides a more comfortable environment for conversation or relaxation and the aircraft’s advanced environmental control system features quieter air distribution and independently vented lavatories. The G650’s new 16 cabin windows, measuring 28 inches by 20.5 inches, are the largest in the industry, providing for even more natural light and visually expanding the aircraft’s already spacious interior.

Gulfstream’s Cabin Essential design philosophy means all of the G650’s major cabin systems have been designed with redundancy so a single-point failure will not result in the loss of cabin functionality. That means a toilet always flushes; water is always available; and an entertainment source always works.

The G650 features the company’s most technologically advanced PlaneView II cockpit with a number of enhancements including: four 14-inch LCD displays, three PlaneBook computer tablets; a smaller pedestal; a standby multifunction controller that combines current display controller functionality with standby flight instruments; and a fully automatic, three-dimensional scanning weather radar with an integral terrain database for efficient ground-clutter elimination.

In addition, the G650 uses state-of-the-art vision systems to improve both pilot situational awareness and flight safety. These standard systems include the Gulfstream Enhanced Vision System (EVS II), the Synthetic Vision-Primary Flight Display (SV-PFD) system and Head-Up Display (HUD II). Gulfstream is the first Part 25 Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) to provide its customers with both enhanced and synthetic vision systems. Kollsman (EVS II), Honeywell (SV-PFD) and Rockwell Collins (HUD II) are major suppliers to Gulfstream on these three systems.

Working in concert, the EVS II and SV-PFD provide pilots with a superior view of the terrain, obstacles and approaches, regardless of the weather conditions outside the cockpit. EVS uses a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) camera to capture real-world images and project them on the pilot’s all-digital HUD II, while the SV-PFD uses three-dimensional, color terrain images that are derived from data stored in the Honeywell Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS).

“The Gulfstream G650 uses state-of-the-art avionics to give operators a visual edge,” said Pres Henne, senior vice president, Programs, Engineering and Test, Gulfstream. “But the G650’s advances extend beyond the cockpit. Every element of this aircraft was designed with safety, reliability, comfort, productivity and performance in mind.”

Because the G650 flight deck has the same basic layout as the G550, the pilot type rating for the G650 is expected to be the same as the GV and the other in-production, large-cabin Gulfstream business jets, with minimal differences training.

The G650 is powered by the new Rolls-Royce BR725 engine, which produces 16,100 pounds of thrust at take-off. Manufactured by Rolls-Royce in Germany, the BR725 engine features a 50-inch swept fan with 24 blades for improved flow, increased efficiency, reduced noise and lower emissions. The G650 has fuel-burn levels comparable to those of smaller aircraft.

The BR725, in combination with the new, high-efficiency thrust-reverser system and an all-new aerodynamically optimized wing, means the G650 can meet the latest take-off certification requirements, has excellent “hot and high” performance and offers outstanding intercontinental range. For example, the G650 can travel the 6,370 nautical miles from Dubai to Chicago 88 minutes faster than existing long-range jets. It shaves 31 minutes off the 4,788-nautical-mile trip from Los Angeles to London and 50 minutes off the 5,932-mile trip from New York to Tokyo.

The G650 offers a full three-axis fly-by-wire system that delivers a number of benefits to the user, including flight-envelope protection, increased redundancy and reduced maintenance. The system is the result of extensive testing in Gulfstream’s Advanced Flight Controls program, where designers and engineers have been flight-testing advanced signaling and actuation on a GV aircraft. Those efforts led to a redundant fly-by-wire system that exceeds certification requirements. The system features a quadruple-redundant flight-control computer system for commanding all flight-control surfaces. In addition, the system has a separate and dedicated back-up flight-control computer that provides an additional level of safety.

The G650 also has reliable electrical systems that use proven components. Two 40 kVA Integrated Drive Generators, a 40 kVA APU Generator and one 15 kVA Ram Air Turbine provide superior electrical power capacity, no-break power transfer capability and added redundancy for safe, reliable operation.

The G650 fuel system stores 100 percent of the aircraft’s 44,200 pounds of fuel in the wings. The G650 retains the G550 heated fuel return system but adds a new Fuel Quantity Monitoring System (FQMS). This system uses a new distributed architecture with redundancy to maintain fuel-quantity indication in the event of any single sensor failure. Additionally, the electronically controlled refueling feature automatically adjusts to provide accurate refueling under varying fuel temperature conditions.

To ensure all systems remain at peak performance, the Gulfstream G650 uses Gulfstream’s PlaneConnect program, a maintenance link that automatically transmits aircraft maintenance information to the customer’s operations department with an optional copy to Gulfstream Technical Operations. This data can then be analyzed to identify systems’ condition status. It also allows for exceptionally fast maintenance turnaround times.

With overall system reliability improvements and with 600 hours between major inspections, the G650 is projected to have unmatched availability and dispatch reliability.

The G650 fuselage employs all-new structural design and manufacturing processes, including bonded skin panels, machined frames and precision assembly. These new methods not only improve aircraft quality, fit and finish, they also reduce assembly time and the need for an extensive parts supply. For example, the G650’s new window design is 16 percent larger but uses 78 percent fewer parts, thereby reducing assembly time 57 percent. This streamlined manufacturing cycle also consumes less energy.

The G650 will be produced in the recently completed 308,000-square-foot manufacturing facility at Gulfstream in Savannah.

In summary, Gulfstream’s all-new flagship jet, the G650, is a new, one-of-a-kind, high-tech, state-of-the-art airborne office that features an unmatched combination of characteristics: the largest and quietest cabin, the longest range and fastest speed and the most technologically advanced aircraft systems.

“It’s thrilling to see how far we’ve come since that day 50 years ago when the first Gulfstream I prototype took to the skies. We were the first then and we’re still the first now. And with the help of our customers, the support of our communities and the ingenuity of our employees, we’ll continue to make aviation history with cutting-edge advances that revolutionize the business-jet industry,” said Lombardo.

Gizmodo has a nice article and some great pics of the new G650 and the official site has lots more info. The G650 is not exactly the most economical or eco-friendly machine and there’s a great discussion on the machine in the reader comments of this New York Sun article.

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About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
14 Comments

If I were Bill Gates, I\'d pay for one of these up-front. SWEET!!

Chris Blake

800 mph would be supersonic. .95 mach at altitude is somewhere in the neighborhood of 650 mph, about the same as the B-52 or F-86

Arthur Hu

Glad it wasn\'t just me thinking ....800mph...subsonic..???..!!! 800mph is Mach 1 at -15000ft - a bit tricky to achieve!! lol! This link shows what it should be: http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/atmosphere/q0112.shtml

So that leaves - how fast is this aircraft? If it is 800mph, then it is a really serious piece of kit? But.. ...much more likely, somebody has divided the speed of sound by the 0.925 performance, instead of multiplying it!! So the actual speed is probably just under 700mph, still not too shabby!!

PeeCeeBee

The speed of sound is EXTREMELY variable, with temperature, pressure altitude, etc... 800mph is entirely feasable as mach .95

Dan K

the fastest civil aircraft ever was concord or the TU 144, they were both civil aircraft and cruse at about Mach 2 or 1334 mph

Richard Mathie

650mph is about the avearage speed of sound at ground level.

At 40,000ft the air is thinner and the speed of sound is higher, though I suspect 800mph (ground speed) would only be possible with a strong tail wind, such as the jet stream.

mommus

LSS is calculated by temperature not altitude. Altitude is irrelevant as one day at 20,000 feet it can be -25 C (ISA) and with a temperature inversion it could be -10 C

Formula for LSS:

Temperature in C 273 Kelvin (Square root the answer) x 38.94 = LSS in Knots

x 1.15 = LSS in MPH

i.e. at 40000 feet its -56.5

-56.5 273 = 216.5 (Sq root 216.5) = 14.71 x 38.94 = 572 Knots x 658 MPH

Fosteve

Speed of sound gets slower as altitude goes up. It is related to the density of the medium through which it is traveling. speed of sound is = to the sqrt of the C(coefficent of stiffness)/p(density)...

Gabriel Jones

Fosteve is right. .925 Mach is nowhere near 800MPH. At ANY altitude or temperature, but I\'m sure the jet could hit 800 in a dive.... We\'ve all heard of \"vaporware\" software... this is what\'s called a \"Vaporcraft\"

Facebook User

Fast ever it says in the headline .... apart from the Concorde that is. I see its correct in the article so maybe a different author?

Roger Bamkin

Been there, done that. Real World figures. Cruising at .86 mach @ 37000 ft = 487 ktas Cruising at .925 mach @ 37000 ft = 529 ktas = 602 mph Cruising at .925 @ 51000 ft = appx 585 mph

Higher is slower at a constant mach.

Fastest altitude occurs at appx. 28000 ft when the Vmo and Mmo crossover but fuel burn is high. A higher altitude is to conserve fuel and increase range.

Best GROUND SPEED to date = 710 kt = 816 mph. 57 years/38,600 hrs and counting.

barrettjet

Alas, one tank of gas from this puppy emits 132.5K pounds of carbon dioxide. That is more than four times the average ANNUAL carbon emissions of every American. Just because we can do it, should we do it? Sorry for being a wet rag...

David Arnold

The speed rating of this article is completely wrong. 800 mph is supersonic and is fighter class. This jet, did my homework already, isn't even the fastest of the commercial private jets. The Citation X is capable of just edging it out due to its shape and that's only in the realm of 605 - 610 mph. Major airliners are actually capable of speeds in excess of 40 mph faster with the Concord still being the fastest civil aircraft ever, reigning at 1350 mph, nearly almost mach 2.

Sound travels at 761.2 mph near the ground, in warmer air, and slower at high altitudes, at 660 mph. That's a really big difference. So different, in fact, that the Concorde was forced into retirement for being supersonic. It would disturb the civilians on the ground and damage their hearing. It was also a gas guzzler and its French competitor suffered a terrible crashing and burning and death to all passengers and crew.

Jay Marshall

60 tons of CO2 is like 1 trillionth of a percent of the atmosphere or around a few ten billionths of a percent of all the CO2 in the atmosphere. Maybe if there were a few million of these flying and the carbon cycle of the Earth had come to a screeching halt would it matter in the slightest. If you have the means to afford one don't hesitate on account of guilt over emitting untraceable amounts of trace gasses in the atmosphere.

Jonathan Holmes
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