The ultra-large-cabin, ultra-long-range Gulfstream G650 business jet received a type certificate from the FAA Sept. 7, Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. announced.
The $64.5 million aircraft is able to carry eight passengers and a crew of four at Mach 0.85 on nonstop legs of 7,000 nautical miles, enough to link Dubai with New York and London with Buenos Aires, according to Gulfstream. The company said it expects to deliver the first fully outfitted G650s to customers before the end of 2012. It has received about 200 orders for the aircraft, it added.
“The G650 is a superlative aircraft with the most technologically advanced flight deck in business aviation and the largest, most comfortable cabin in its class,” said Gulfstream President Larry Flynn in a news release. “In short, the G650 speaks to all that is good about business aviation: safety, security, flexibility, comfort, and capability,”
Gulfstream announced the Mach-0.925-capable jet in 2008, and it received a provisional type certificate in November 2011, part of a two-step certification approach. Powered by two Rolls-Royce BR725 engines of 16,100 pounds thrust each, it first reached its maximum operating Mach number in May 2010. The jet comes equipped with a PlaneView II avionics suite and fly-by-wire system that includes flight-envelope protection. Features of the cockpit include automatic descent mode; wide area augmentation system/localizer performance with vertical guidance (WAAS/LPV); future air navigation system (FANS) 1/A; controller-pilot datalink communications (CPDLC); automatic dependent surveillance-contract (ADS-C); and a fully automatic, three-dimensional scanning weather radar with an integral terrain database for efficient ground-clutter elimination, Gulfstream said. It also uses the Gulfstream Enhanced Vision System (EVS II), the Synthetic Vision-Primary Flight Display (SV-PFD) and the Head-Up Display (HUD II).
The G650 boasts a large cabin—the unfinished cabin measures 102 inches wide and 77 inches high, according to Gulfstream—and large windows; it has a cabin altitude of 4,850 feet at FL 510 and 3,300 feet at FL 410, the company said.
The G650 testing program, which involved seven flight-test aircraft, suffered a setback April 2, 2011, when four Gulfstream employees died in a crash during flight testing. The NTSB has not yet released a probable cause finding.
By Alton K. Marsh
Gulfstream officials have been asked twice if they intend to return to the G650 drawing table to find just enough speed to beat the Cessna Citation Ten, which claims a top speed of Mach 0.935. They laughed both times.
It appears now it is more of a debate over numbers, and the differences in speed is down to minutes—single-digit numbers of minutes. For now, the G650 is the fastest certified business jet in the world, but when the Citation Ten is certified, it will have the title. To continue its claim of Mach 0.935, Cessna will need further testing to meet the details of FAA regulations. It must also exceed the speed of sound in testing or request an exemption from the FAA allowing it to claim the top speed without going over Mach 1.0. The FAA requires that an aircraft demonstrate it is capable of a speed Mach 0.07 greater than the maximum Mach operating speed to allow for gusts or flight conditions that might exceed that speed. At the speed range achieved by the G650 and the Citation Ten, that means exceeding Mach 1 to comply with FAA testing requirements. Manufacturers can ask the FAA for an exemption from the Mach 0.07 requirement if they do not intend to exceed Mach 1.0 in testing. Sonic booms are allowed over water, so testing can be conducted there to avoid residential areas.
It is unlikely either airplane will be operated at top speed, unless each is piloted by the respective CEOs of the two companies. That we’d like to see.