The $43.5 million G500, Gulfstream’s long-awaited replacement for the $41 million G450, is making its NBAA debut only six months after its first flight. The newest member of the Gulfstream family is designed to fly 5,000 nm at Mach 0.85 and 3,800 nm at Mach 0.90, while offering a larger cabin, much-improved fuel efficiency, lower interior noise levels and better operating economics than G450.

“We’re continuing to deliver on the promises we make,” says Mark Kohler, head of Gulfstream’s G500 / G600 development programs. “The aircraft is a testament to the strength of Gulfstream’s ability to deliver on performance and on schedule. It has unmatched high-speed range. Flying it to NBAA provides us with a great opportunity to show the progress we’ve made in a very short time period.”

Kohler said Gulfstream is leveraging the technologies it developed for G650, including its 3-axis fly-by-wire flight controls and a scaled-down version of the $65 million flagship’s wing, plus its larger wide oval windows and roomier space between seats. Notably, G500 is the first Gulfstream that won’t be powered by Rolls-Royce engines. Instead, G500 is fitted with twin 15,144-pounds-thrust PW814GA engines, featuring 50-in. single-piece, wide-chord-blade fans and higher bypass ratios. The engines now are FAA certified.

The cockpit is equipped with Gulfstream’s new Symmetry flight deck based upon Honeywell Primus Epic avionics and featuring civil aviation’s first active side sticks, 10 touch screens, EVS III, a standard HUD and new wide-screen, high-resolution integrated standby instrument systems in the glareshield.

The first test article now has flown 44 flights and 160+ hours, during which it has flown as high as 50,000 ft. and as fast as Mach 0.995. However, it only cruised at FL450 and at Mach 0.85 during its 4-hr.-36-min. flight against an average 75-kt. headwind from Savannah, Georgia to Henderson, Nevada. Allowable cruise speeds will be increased pending weight and CG flight envelope expansion during the flight-test program.

Kohler says the first flight-test aircraft has been “remarkably reliable,” often returning from flights with no squawks. He attributes the reliability to 41,000+ hours of ground testing of aircraft avionics and systems, including its Conceptual Advanced Simulation Environment [CASE] for development of control laws and evaluation of human factors, System Integration Bench [SIB] for data and avionics integration, integrated test facility (ITF) for debugging FADECs and actual systems and Iron Bird mockup for evaluation of flight control actuators, hydraulics and other systems. Gulfstream also is building a full-scale fuselage for cabin management and interior integration, including a capability to exert simulated pressurization loads on the structure to check the fit of cabin furnishings and their mounts from sea level to 51,000 ft.

Gulfstream’s G500 / G600 customer advisory board provided more than 200 inputs on cabin layout, galley design and storage areas, along with seat comfort and cabin systems utility.

FlightSafety’s G500 simulator also is up and running, enabling FAA certification pilots to “fly” the aircraft prior to strapping into the actual aircraft. Scott Evans and Scott Martin, lead test pilots for G500 and G600, flew their initial test profiles in the FSI simulator prior to making the first flight in the actual aircraft.

T1, T2 and T3 now have been inducted into the flight-test program. The second flight-test aircraft is complete and it’s on the verge of making its first flight. The third flight-test aircraft is in final assembly, nearing its first flight. T4 is being manufactured, as are Production aircraft 1 and 2. Initial static testing of a ground-test article with 100% simulated loads is complete. Fatigue testing and 150% ultimate overload testing are under way.

Concurrently, development of the $54.5 million G600, the larger-wing, longer-fuselage, 6,200-nm-range derivative of G500, is well under way. Critical design review is complete, the 15,680-pounds-thrust PW815GA turbofans have been certified, ITF and “iron bird” ground-test systems are up and running and manufacturing of the first flight-test aircraft is progressing. G600 is on track for 2017 first flight, 2018 certification and 2019 entry into service.