Gulfstream G650 Rolled Out, Under Its Own Power

 - September 29, 2009, 10:46 AM

Gulfstream Aerospace this morning rolled out the first wide-cabin G650 to much fanfare, and a crowd that completely filled the G650 production hangar, at its Savannah, Ga. headquarters. What made the event even more noteworthy is that the $64.5 million (2009 $) twinjet–dubbed T1 for test aircraft one–did so under the power of its own Rolls-Royce BR725 engines. “We’ve all been looking forward to this day since we officially announced the G650 program last year,” said Gulfstream president Joe Lombardo. “The G650 is a statement about Gulfstream,” referring to its willingness to invest in new aircraft programs. Jay Johnson, president and CEO of Gulfstream parent General Dynamics, called the fly-by-wire G650 “the new Gulfstream standard.” The clean-sheet aircraft was launched in March last year and is expected to fly by year-end. FAA certification is slated for late 2011, with deliveries to follow in 2012. Lombardo said that T1 has already started “slow” taxi tests, which will be followed by higher-speed tests and, once all the systems are cleared, first flight by Gulfstream test pilots Jake Howard and Tom Horn. Meanwhile, the second G650 airframe is undergoing static testing and T2, the second of five flight test aircraft, is already on the production line. The five test aircraft will fly about 1,800 hours over the next 18 to 20 months. Lombardo said the Mach 0.925 aircraft will be taken up to, but not over, Mach 1 during the test campaign. Compared with the G550, the G650 is longer and has a cabin that is three inches taller and 14 inches wider, offering 28 percent more volume. It also has a larger main entry door and 16-percent-larger cabin windows. The 7,000-nm G650 will displace the G550 as the flagship product at Gulfstream, though the models will coexist within the line-up. Lombardo said that Gulfstream has orders for 200 G650s, which he said is beyond internal sales predictions.