Gulfstream is a few weeks away from delivering the first completed G650 and G280s, awaiting only the supplemental type certification approvals on the interior installations before handing over the first aircraft, company executives say.
The company obtained full type certification for its G650 in early September, one week after receiving similar approval for the G280. “We’re marching along smartly. …We’ll be delivering aircraft here within weeks,” says Jay Johnson, chairman of Gulfstream parent.
Gulfstream originally anticipated delivering 17 completed G650s before year’s end, but Johnson told analysts last week that he did not believe the company will reach that target. However, a number of both green and completed G650s lined the ramp at Gulfstream’s facility in Savannah, Ga., Oct. 26 as Gulfstream executives briefed reporters on the program. Gulfstream is still on pace to deliver 24 green G650s this year, and work on the production lines is nearing serial number 50.
Once in customers’ hands, the G650 will have performance specifications that are improved over those originally announced. Gulfstream has extended the range at the G650’s high-speed cruise at Mach 0.90 to 6,000 nm – 1,000 nm greater than originally promised. Gulfstream says this will open new city pairs such as Tokyo to New York, Moscow to Los Angeles and Shanghai to London at the higher speed. The 6,000-nm missions can be accomplished in under 12 hr., Gulfstream adds.
“The G650’s flight time for a 6,000-nm mission at Mach 0.90 would be 40 min. less than the same mission flown on a G550,” says Pres Henne, Gulfstream’s senior vice president for programs, engineering and test.
The maximum cruise speed of Mach 0.925 for the G650 makes it the fastest certified civilian aircraft in production. The aircraft, however, is expected to be dethroned from that title oncebrings its new Citation “Ten” to market next year. Cessna is promising a Mach 0.935 speed for that aircraft.
Gulfstream executives say there is room to up the speed of the G650 – which in test flights has come within a whisper of Mach 1 – but they stop short of saying they plan to boost it beyond the Ten. Steve Cass, director of sales, engineering and technical marketing for Gulfstream, adds there is a point of diminishing returns on pushing the speed envelope.
Speed, however, was a key factor in the aircraft’s design, Cass says, noting the “vast majority” of the input from the company’s customer advisory board was to build an aircraft that goes faster.
The company also is announcing improved balance field length – originally 6,000 ft., now 5,858 ft. Cass says the field length was also a particularly important factor to its advisory board, which stressed that the new aircraft must be able to go into the same airports as the G550.
Along with finalizing the improved specifications, Gulfstream has been putting the necessary product support in place to ensure a smooth entry into service. More than 150 Gulfstream technicians have completed the initial 25-day maintenance training course conducted by FlightSafety International.
The company has also prepared the initial eight service centers to provide support. Cass says the initial centers – all part of the GD Aerospace group with the exception of Metrojet in Hong Kong – were lined up based on the anticipated early deliveries. Other initial service centers are in Savannah, Ga.; Dallas; Appleton, Wis.; Long Beach, Calif.; Luton, England; Geneva and Dubai.
For the G280, Gulfstream has lined up service centers in Savannah, Dallas, Appleton, Las Vegas, Luton, Singapore, Dubai and Basel, Switzerland. As well as facilities run by Gulfstream and its sister company Jet Aviation, Altenrhein Aviation in Altenrhein, Switzerland, is among the initial G280 authorized service centers. More than 90 technicians have completed training for the G280, and the initial pilot training classes have been completed for both models.
In addition to preparing service centers, Gulfstream has taken the Serial No. 2007 G280 on the road to prepare fixed-base operations for handling the new aircraft. The aircraft is also being used for additional function and reliability tests – over and above what is required for certification. These tests will cover items such as cabin systems.
Gulfstream conducted some similar testing on the G650 during the certification program, when it had outfitted the fourth production model with a full interior to conduct complete testing.
Gulfstream is not giving delivery estimates for the G280 this year, but Johnson notes that the company has delivered 10 of its midcabin aircraft through the third quarter and anticipates that the year’s end total will range between 15-20, with the G280 accounting for a number of those deliveries. The G280 is sold out through late 2014.
As for what’s ahead after its newest models, Gulfstream executives are saying little for now. Scott Neal, senior vice president for sales and marketing, says the company is always conducting research and development for new products. But Gulfstream is not ready to reveal anything just yet on potential next aircraft models, Neal says.
The 650, however, is believed to be the first of a family of aircraft, with the next evolution – possibly a truncated version – thought to be well under way.