Although Gulfstream has joined the rest of the aviation industry in announcing layoffs, the company remains on schedule with new-airplane programs. In February, the first midsize G250 forward, center and aft fuselage sections were joined.
Honeywell HTF7250G engines and nacelles for the first airplane have been delivered, according to Gulfstream, and certification and deliveries of the new jet are still planned in 2011. After initial-phase manufacturing at Israel Aerospace Industries in Tel Aviv, G250s will be flown to Gulfstream’s Dallas facility for final-phase manufacturing, inclu-ding completions. The G250 has a maximum operating speed of Mach 0.85 and can fly 3,400 nm at Mach 0.80. First flight is expected during the second half of this year.
The overall design for the large-cabin G650 is final, according to a Gulfstream spokesperson, although some systems are still being “tweaked.” On December 15, project pilot Jake Howard and chief experimental test pilot John O’Meara made the first flight in the G650 Integration Test Facility (ITF) at Gulfstream’s head- quarters in Savannah, Ga.
The ITF is a full-scale mockup of the cockpit, cabin and systems that uses the first nose built by the G650 manufacturing facility. Avionics and other production hardware are installed in the ITF. “The ITF enables all aircraft systems to be thoroughly evaluated and tested by engineers and pilots in a controlled lab environment well before the aircraft makes its maiden flight,” according to Gulfstream.
More than 800 Gulfstream employees are working on G650 design, development, manufacturing and testing. The G650 will be the fastest civil airplane, with a maximum operating speed of Mach 0.925 and range of 7,000 nm at Mach 0.85. First flight of the G650 is also planned for the second half of this year, followed by certification in 2011 and customer delivers in 2012.