A Gulfstream G650 flight-test airplane crashed today at 9:30 a.m. mountain time in Roswell, N.M., killing two Gulfstream pilots and two Gulfstream flight test engineers, the company confirmed.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those who were lost,” said Joe Lombardo, president of Savannah, Ga.-based Gulfstream Aerospace in a press release. He also said that Gulfstream is “cooperating 100 percent with the investigation.”
A Gulfstream spokesperson confirmed that the airplane crashed soon after taking off from Roswell International Air Center (ROW) and that its landing gear collapsed. The large, twin-engine business jet then caught fire.
The airplane was one of five G650’s engaged in flight testing as part of the model’s FAA and EASA certification plan. The fleet has accumulated about 1,500 flight hours to date, according to the spokesperson. Before the accident, Gulfstream had reported that the program was on track for certification in 2011 and entry into service next year. The spokesperson said it is too early to tell what, if any, effect the crash will have on the program.
On January 12, a G650 (S/N 6004), demonstrated the airplane’s high-speed cruise capability by flying from Los Angeles to Savannah in 3 hours 26 minutes, a distance of more than 1,900 nm. The flight was conducted at speeds between Mach 0.91 and 0.92, with a brief segment at Mach 0.925, the model’s maximum operating Mach. It’s maximum range is 7,000 nm.
Gulfstream reports holding orders for more than 200 G650s. The aircraft is priced at about $65 million.