In the Works: June 2010

 - May 25, 2010, 10:14 AM

Gulfstream – G650
Test pilot John O’Meara and senior experimental test pilot Tom Horne flew Gulfstream’s G650 proto- type to its top operating speed of Mach 0.925 and 340 kcas during a test flight on May 2. The flight reached 42,500 feet and included banking maneuvers, which were buffet-free up to 45 degrees, according to Pres Henne, senior vice president of programs, engineering and test. Two test G650s have flown more than 163 hours in 57 flights, and structural limit-load testing has been completed. Two more G650s were scheduled to join the first two by the end of last month, and five G650s will log about 1,800 hours of flight testing for the certification program. FAA and EASA certification is expected next year, followed by entry into service in 2012.

Cessna Aircraft – Citation CJ4
The first CJ4 was delivered to a U.S. customer in mid-April, a month after FAA certification and earlier than previously announced. EASA certification is planned for October, followed by European deliveries beginning early next year. The first customer CJ4 was also the first Citation delivered with Cessna’s new GreenTrak flight planning software, which uses cost indexing to minimize total trip cost by balancing the costs of direction operation, fuel burn and carbon emissions. The single-pilot CJ4 is the largest of the CitationJets, and although Cessna hasn’t revealed any plans, it will be interesting to see what comes next in the Citation line and if the CJ series has room for another.

Dassault Falcon – SMS
The super-midsize Falcon SMS should be Dassault’s smallest jet, although the company is trying to retain the traditional Falcon fuselage cross section. The SMS could also be a replacement for the 2000 series. According to Dassault CEO Charles Edelstenne, the SMS architecture and aerodynamic outlines are “frozen” and the company is currently selecting major partners for the program in time for the next phase to begin before year-end.

Honda Aircraft – HondaJet
Honda Aircraft has again delayed first flight of its first conforming HondaJet prototype. Previously, the next HondaJet was scheduled to fly in the middle of this year, followed by certification and entry into service at the end of next year. “Regrettably we’ve experienced delays in some components,” said a Honda Aircraft spokesman. He declined to identify any of the suppliers involved.

Bombardier – Learjet 85
The all-composite Learjet 85 is now in the detail design phase, which means that the company is building tooling (molds) on which composite parts will be shaped and baked. More than 1,500 molds are expected to be built by year-end. Manufacture of the fuselage, wing, empennage and electrical systems as well as installation of subassemblies will take place at Bombardier’s factory in Queretaro, Mexico, which recently received FAA permission to build Category 1 and 2 aircraft parts. Workers will move into the Queretaro facility this month and begin building parts next month. Five test Learjet 85s are planned, including two for flight test. Construction of the first airframe is slated to begin this year after the Queretaro facility opens.

Piaggio Aero – P1XX
Piaggio Aero is on the cusp of announcing plans for a turbine-powered airplane, tentatively labeled the P1XX. Piaggio Aero shareholders Tata and Mubadala are strongly supporting the project, according to John Bingham, president and CEO of Piaggio America and chief marketing officer for Piaggio Aero. Development of the P1XX is ongoing, and the company has hired some additional engineering talent to work on the program. The P1XX is not, as has been speculated in other publications, a P180 Avanti with turboprop engines replaced with turbofans. The dedicated team working on the P1XX is already well beyond the preliminary concept stage, Bingham said, but the company will wait to announce
the program until the timing is right.

Spectrum Aeronautical S.40 Freedom
Spectrum Aeronautical has been working on “in-depth evaluation of several large test panels that have recently been built” for the S.40 Freedom midsize
jet, according to a spokesman. “We’re pleased with progress. Structural integrity and end-item quality are excellent.” While Spectrum’s “detailed business strategies remain confidential,” the spokesman told AIN, chairman and CEO Linden Blue has acknowledged that it will cost $130 million to “complete the design, certification and initial production work for the S.40.” The S.40 and its smaller sibling, the S.33 Independence, are made using a unique composites process called fibeX, which will allow Spectrum to deliver lightweight jets with noteworthy performance. The S.40 will offer a stand-up cabin and 440-knot maximum cruise speed. Powered by the same GE Honda Aero HF120s as the HondaJet, the S.40 will carry up to 10 occupants and fly 2,250 nm (maximum IFR range).

Piper Aircraft – PiperJet
The single-engine PiperJet program remains on track for 2013 FAA certification. According to Piper CEO Kevin Gould, the production airplane will not feature an entirely rivetless bonded metal wing, although the prototype PiperJet does. Most of the wing will be bonded, but part of it will also be manufactured with traditional fasteners. Deliveries are scheduled to take place in the second quarter of 2013.