Despite initially approving the operation of Gulfstream’s new flagship G650 at Colorado’s Aspen-Pitkin County Airport when it enters service, officials there have reversed their decision after a citizen’s group pointed out that the wingspan of the ultra-long-range business jet exceeds the width limit set by local code and the FAA. The airport’s management initially based its approval on the span of the wing’s lifting surface, which according to Gulfstream does not include the winglets. The OEM lists the G650’s span as 93 feet, 8 inches, less than the airport’s 95-foot-span limit; including the reach of the winglets pushes the overall width to more than 99 feet.
According to Jim Ellwood, the airport’s aviation director, the span limit at the airport was established through a planning process with the FAA to maintain a safe distance between the centerline of the runway and the centerline of the taxiway, and after requesting clarification from the FAA he was told the wingspan should be defined from the outside tip to the outside tip of the entire wing assembly, including any shadow that might be cast by the winglets as well. Ellwood noted the agency’s initial wingspan guidelines were drawn up before winglets became popular and are in need of revision. “The 95-foot wingspan [limit] is based in ordinance and reinforced by the FAA, so unfortunately the G650 is not going to be able to land here unless some other thing changes that we don’t have knowledge of today,” he told AIN. Gulfstream declined to comment on the decision.