Gulfstream Aerospace’s largest and fastest business jet, the G650, has taken another step towards taxiing into aircraft hangars with the receipt this week of a type certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration FAA).
Having already received 200 orders, the certification verifies the airworthiness of the aircraft and keeps on track Gulfstream’s plans to deliver the first fully outfitted G650’s to customers before the end of the year.
The G650 was first revealed to the public in 2008 and completed its maiden flight in 2009. In the 35 months since that first flight, Gulfstream’s G650 flight-test program has seen seven test aircraft notch up more than 3,889 hours in over 1,181 flights.
The test program included a flight on May 2, 2010, in which the aircraft flew at its maximum operating speed of Mach 0.925 for the first time, and a high speed cruise in October 2010 when a test aircraft completed a 5,000-nautical mile (9,260 km) lap at Mach 0.90 over the Atlantic Ocean in 9 hours and 45 minutes.
The G650 also set a city-pair speed record for a February 2011 flight from Burbank, California, to Savannah, Georgia. Cruising at speeds of between Mach 0.91 and 0.92 and with a brief spurt at Mach 0.925, the aircraft completed to journey of over 1,900 miles (3,058 km) in three hours and 26 minutes.
It also set a city-pair record in its first trans-Atlantic crossing on May 12 of this year, flying the 3,780 nautical miles (7,000 km) journey from Washington, D.C. to Geneva, Switzerland in six hours and 55 minutes.
But it hasn’t all been clear skies for the aircraft, with a G650 crashing in flight testing in April, 2011. The remaining test aircraft were grounded but flight testing resumed on May 28, 2011, and has remained incident-free since.
As well as being Gulfstream’s largest and fastest business jet, the G650 is also the company’s most expensive, with a base price in the US$60 million ballpark.