Gulfstream made a series of rapid-fire announcements at EBACE, marking incremental progress across its portfolio. From steep-approach approvals to imminent type certifications, via further deployments for the enhanced flight vision system (EFVS) technology the company pioneered in civilian aircraft and extensions to the firm’s global maintenance network, Gulfstream’s achievements over the past few months reflect a determination to keep thinking about what comes next.

“This is not about one year: this is about really two decades of commitment to the future,” says Mark Burns, Gulfstream president.

“This is a transformative moment in time for us, and we’re very proud of the innovation that we’ve made for this industry.”

Type certification work on the G600 is progressing well, with F&R (function and reliability) testing – the final stage of the Federal Aviation Administration’s certification test-flying process – nearing completion. Almost 100,000 flight hours in the lab have been augmented by over 3,170 hours in the air.

“We’re into the final days of the F&R, with just about 30 hours to complete,” Burns says. Then we’ll be in the process of final approval of documents with the FAA.”

Burns acknowledges that what he diplomatically refers to as “current issues” have brought challenges when dealing with the FAA, but emphasizes that Gulfstream has no criticism of the regulatory authority. The firm earned an ODA (Organization Designation Authorization) from the FAA, which Burns says has helped speed up the overall process.

“While I do think current issues will precipitate some change, our experience is that the FAA is very thorough,” he says. “It’s the safest system in the world, in my mind. But the ODA has made it an even more thorough process. We were the very first ODA in the FAA’s system, and we’re the first ones to certify an airplane utilizing the ODA.

“On G650, 500 and 600 we combined the most stringent requirements between EASA and the FAA to develop our certification profile,” he said. “I’m very confident in where we are today.”

Another important regulatory milestone has been achieved on the G650 and its long-range sibling, the 650ER, with the types certified for steep approaches by the FAA. The certification opens up operations from airports such as Lugano, which requires the capability due to its proximity to mountains, and London City, where strict noise limits and a short runway make the certification mandatory.

“Speed is one thing, but flexibility is another,” Burns says of the steep-approach approval. “One of the things we’ve touted a lot over the last year is the benefit of speed. We recently did the longest flight by a business jet in the shortest period of time – almost 8,400 miles in a little bit over 15 hours – because the airplane can. But that capability to be flexible [is also important]. Steep approach is certified with the FAA, and we’ll begin the process with EASA and hopefully have that wrapped in early 2020.”

Yet another FAA approval has also been secured to enable G280 touchdowns and rollouts using EFVS. This means that once the equipment is installed (it is optional on the type), and the pilots have received training and a letter of authorization from the FAA, they are able to land the aircraft without being able to see the runway unaided. The EFVS will project relevant imagery to assist the landing onto the head-up display.

The system “significantly improves safety by increasing a pilot’s situational awareness at night and during low-visibility conditions,” said Colin Miller, senior vice president for innovation, engineering and flight. Millar said utilization of the system will limit delays and the need to re-route flights.

Meanwhile, as construction gets underway this month on Gulfstream’s new MRO facility at TAG Farnborough, the company announced it has begun operations at the airfield using an existing hangar. The new 20,444.sq.-meter facility is due to open in the third quarter of next year. The temporary solution will augment ongoing operations at Luton Airport.

“The new space at Farnborough will give us our largest service facility in Europe,” says Burns. “We’re excited about that. We’re also building new facilities in Savannah, in Appleton, Wisconsin, and in Van Nuys, California, for service. And we just broke ground on a new facility in West Palm Beach, Florida. It will be a co-branded site with Jet Aviation. We’ll have both Gulfstream service and Jet Aviation management at that new facility.”