The 800mph Gulfstream G650 - fastest civil aircraft ever
By Mike Hanlon
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.