December 27, 2012
By Jim Moore
Gulfstream’s G650. Photo courtesy of Gulfstream Aerospace Corp.
With long legs and lots of legroom for eight passengers, the Gulfstream G650--billed as the new flagship of the Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. fleet--may soon arrive at a ramp near you. The company announced the first delivery has been made to a U.S. customer, and in nearly the same breath announced that the FAA on Dec. 20 granted a production certificate under Part 21. European regulators have also issued a type certificate, allowing G650 deliveries to begin in the 27 European Union member states.
The G650 has a top speed of Mach 0.925, making it, for now, the fastest business jet on the market. Cessna is hot on Gulfstream’s heels with the Citation X, billed as a Mach 0.935 performer on track for certification and first deliveries in 2013.
Both are raising the bizjet speed bar: The G650 can complete a 6,000-nautical-mile mission in 12 hours--a full hour less than competing models, the company noted at the annual National Business Aviation Association convention in October. The G650 can fly that mission with a crew of four in addition to eight passengers, with takeoff and landing performance that exceeded initial expectations, along with endurance: Reducing cruise speed from Mach 0.90 to Mach 0.85 yields a 7,000-nm range. Gulfstream also credits the G650 cabin with the largest cabin of any purpose-built business jet.
AOPA Online Associate Editor Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot who enjoys competition aerobatics.
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