NTSB issues flight test safety recommendations

October 25, 2012

The NTSB has requested a response from Gulfstream Aerospace, the FAA, and the Flight Test Safety Committee to a set of 10 recommendations adopted Oct. 10, and distributed Oct. 23, following a fatal 2011 crash during a test flight of the G650.

Board members on Oct. 10 criticized Gulfstream for pressing forward with the flight test program without a full analysis of stalls that occurred on two previous flights that nearly led to crashes. Four people were killed on April 2, 2011, in Roswell, N.M., when a G650 stalled and crashed just after liftoff during a single-engine takeoff test.

The NTSB has requested a response within 90 days from Gulfstream, the FAA, and the organization of test pilots and industry groups, that details what actions have been taken, or are planned, to address the specific recommendations.

The recommendations collectively seek to ensure that all manufacturers follow a standardized set of procedures based on best practices for flight test programs. The NTSB advised the FAA to work with the Flight Test Safety Committee to “develop and issue guidance” that addresses issues detailed in the NTSB report on the crash. Flight tests deemed “high risk” should be coordinated with airport and safety officials to ensure adequate firefighting and rescue resources are readily available, the NTSB recommended. The board also recommended that Gulfstream commission an audit by independent safety experts to assess test program safety before another test program is undertaken, and distribute to other manufacturers the lessons learned from development of a flight test safety program.