Gulfstream makes progress toward first flight of G150

 - February 2, 2007, 9:11 AM

The Gulfstream G150, which the Savannah, Ga.-based company describes as the first wide-cabin, long-range, midsize business jet, rolled out January 18 in el Aviv before hundreds of employees of Israel Aircraft Industries, which is producing the G150 at its plant on Ben Gurion International Airport.

The G150 is a larger-cabin version of the G100, which will go out of production with S/N 158. Before Gulfstream’s parent company, General Dynamics, purchased Galaxy Aerospace in 2001, the G100 was known as the Astra SPX. But its lineage traces back to the early 1960s Jet Commander, which IAI acquired in 1967.

Guiding the development of the G150 were the objectives of marrying the performance of the G100 with increased cabin volume and a reshaped aircraft nose and windshields. The result is an aircraft with a cabin height just three inches less than that of its G450 and G550 large-cabin brethren and the ability to fly four passengers nonstop up to 2,700 nm at Mach 0.75.

The cabin is 12 inches wider and two inches taller than that of the G100, and the fuselage is stretched 16 inches to rebalance the aircraft. A shortened nose and wider cockpit contribute to improved visibility, and the cabin sports G200-style windows. Powered by two Honeywell 731-40AR turbofans, the G150 can reach speeds up to Mach 0.85 and altitudes of 45,000 feet.

Certification Program
The first flight of the new Gulfstream is scheduled for May 18. Certification will be on an amended G100 type certificate and is expected to come from both the FAA and the Israel Civil Aviation Authority in the first quarter of next year.

Entry into service will follow in the third quarter, with launch customer NetJets. The fractional provider has ordered 50 G150s and has options for 50 more. After the green airplanes come off the production line, they will be flown to Gulfstream’s Dallas facility for completion.

Designed using computational fluid dynamics, the G150 required no prototypes. IAI will need only 75 flights totaling between 200 and 300 hours for its seven-month certification program. Also adding to the efficiency of the program is the fact that test pilots do not need to return frequently to the facility for data analysis. IAI conducts flight tests over the eastern Mediterranean Sea and downloads test results in real-time back to Tel Aviv. Once engineers interpret the data, the aircraft can continue flying a new set of tests without returning to Ben Gurion Airport.

S/N 201 will be the first flying airplane, and it will be joined by a fully instrumented S/N 202. Both airplanes eventually will be completed and sold to customers.

The G150’s avionics suite is based on the Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21, with four 12- by 10-inch LCD adaptive flight displays, dual integrated digital FMS, dual AHRS, TCAS, turbulence weather radar and Collins Pro Line radio sensors.

Gulfstream would not predict the eventual market numbers for the $13.5 million G150, whose competitors the Savannah airframer identifies as being the Hawker 800XP, Cessna Citation Sovereign and  Learjet 60.

IAI estimates it will produce 15 G150s next year and eventually 24 or more a year. Using new production techniques, the company can build at a rate of four a month. Total assembly time has been reduced to eight months, with 45 days from joining the wing to final assembly.

Gulfstream announced the G150 at the NBAA convention in September 2002, but early in 2003 it said there would be an eight- or nine-month delay in development because of market conditions. Deliveries to NetJets originally were scheduled to begin in the second quarter of this year.

“We designed this aircraft to meet the needs of specific customers who use their aircraft primarily to transport eight or fewer passengers between cities within a continent,” said Gulfstream president Bryan Moss. “G150 owners will appreciate the operating efficiencies associated with this aircraft as well as the benefits of Gulfstream’s world-renowned standard of excellence in product design, innovation and product support.”

Stan Dixon, director of the of G150 program, said Gulfstream “really focused on dispatch reliability” with the airplane. The company took the top 20 components that were causing dispatch reliability issues with the G100 and developed solutions for each of those items on the G150, he noted.