Gulfstream Aerospace earned long-awaited full certifications of its super-midsize G280 and wide-cabin, ultra-long-range G650 last month. The G280 obtained full approval from two aviation authorities–the U.S. FAA and Israeli CAAI–on September 3, and the G650 received full FAA certification four days later.
Both aircraft crossed the finish line close to Gulfstream’s original “midyear 2012” estimates. The aircraft had previously received provisional approvals–the G650 last November, while the G280 received initial certification from the CAAI last December and the FAA in March. Deliveries of outfitted G280s and G650s are planned before year-end.
The super-midsize Gulfstream G280 (originally called the G250), a joint project between Gulfstream and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), was announced on Oct. 5, 2008, as a replacement for the G200. The aircraft rolled out under its own power on Oct. 6, 2009, at the IAI facility near Tel Aviv and took its maiden flight on Dec. 11, 2009. Three G280s participated in the flight-test program, logging more than 2,150 hours over the course of 794 test flights.
“Gulfstream is excited to bring this aircraft to its customers, especially since we’re able to provide an airplane that does more than we originally announced,” said Gulfstream president Larry Flynn. The G280 has a range of 3,600 nm at Mach 0.80, 200 nm more than original projections. “It’s the only midsize aircraft that can reliably fly nonstop between London and New York,” he added.
The G280 has an all-new, advanced transonic wing design that has been optimized for high-speed cruise and (addressing a weakness of the G200 from which it has been extensively modified) improved takeoff field length performance. At its mtow of 39,600 pounds (17,963 kg), the G280 offers a balanced field length of 4,750 feet (1,448 m), an improvement of more than 1,300 feet (396 m) over the G200 it replaces and 210 feet (64 m) less than originally announced at the program’s outset.
“The new G280 is the impressive result of an extensive development program,” said David Dagan, vice president and general manager at IAI’s Commercial Aircraft Group. “The aircraft’s performance ultimately exceeds initial projections.”
Thanks to its new high-speed swept wing and pair of 7,445-pound-thrust Honeywell HTF7250G turbofans, the G280 can climb to FL430 in less than 23 minutes on its way to a maximum cruise altitude of 45,000 feet.
The G280 comes standard with autobraking, which enhances passenger comfort, improves safety and reduces brake wear, resulting in lower operating costs. The brake-by-wire system features an individual, anti-skid, completely independent mechanical backup and a brake temperature monitoring system.
According to Gulfstream, the principal remaining item required before the FAA and CAAI issued full type certificates was an update to the software for the twinjet’s Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion avionics. Dubbed PlaneView280, the avionics system includes three 15-inch liquid-crystal displays, a standby multifunction controller, dual cursor control devices and dual autothrottle. It also features an automatic descent mode, Waas-LPV, future air navigation system (Fans) 1/A, controller-pilot datalink communication, electronic charts on cockpit displays and worldwide graphical weather. An enhanced vision system is available as an option.
The U.S. and Israeli approvals clear the way for customer deliveries of the new twinjet. Gulfstream says it will deliver the first G280 before year-end to a “U.S.-based manufacturer with a worldwide presence spanning 190 countries.”
Gulfstream’s new flagship, the G650, is a “superlative aircraft with the most technologically advanced flight deck in business aviation and the largest, most comfortable cabin in its class. In short, the G650 speaks to all that is good about business aviation: safety, security, flexibility, comfort and capability,” said Flynn. “We designed the G650 with significant input from our advanced technology customer advisory team, and we’re extremely proud of what our entire organization has accomplished with this aircraft.”
Notably, the G650 has a cabin measuring 102 inches wide and 77 inches high, which is three inches taller and 14 inches wider than that on the G550, Gulfstream’s previous top model. It also has a low cabin altitude of 4,850 feet at FL510 and 3,300 feet at FL410, which the company says reduces fatigue, increases mental alertness and enhances productivity. The G650’s 16 sideways-oval cabin windows, the largest in the industry, are some 16 percent larger than those on the G550.
In the cockpit is a PlaneView II avionics suite (based on the Honeywell Primus Epic system) that include four 14-inch LCD screens. Its next-generation avionics feature automatic descent mode, Waas-LPV, future air navigation system (Fans) 1/A and controller-pilot datalink communications. In addition, the G650 comes standard with the Gulfstream enhanced vision system (EVS II), synthetic vision-primary flight display (SV-PFD) and a head-up display.
Powered by a pair of 16,100-pound-thrust Rolls-Royce BR725s, the G650 has a balanced field length of 6,000 feet at mtow and a 3,000-foot landing distance at mlw. Other performance specs include 7,000-nm range at Mach 0.85 and 5,000 nm at Mach 0.90. Its top speed is Mach 0.925.
The aircraft’s three-axis fly-by-wire flight control system offers flight-envelope protection, increased redundancy and reduced maintenance, says Gulfstream. It has a separate and dedicated backup flight-control computer that provides an additional level of safety, according to Gulfstream.
Gulfstream announced the G650 in March 2008 and first flew the airplane in November 2009. Since then, seven aircraft have been involved in the flight-test program, accumulating more than 3,889 hours over the course of 1,181 flights. One of those test aircraft, S/N 6002, was destroyed in a fatal accident during flight testing in Roswell, N.M., on April 2, 2011; the NTSB has not yet determined probable cause for this crash.
To date, Gulfstream has received orders for more than two hundred G650s. Jay Johnson, chairman and CEO of Gulfstream parent General Dynamics, says customers have responded so favorably to the aircraft because it “sets the new world standard for business-jet performance, range, speed and comfort…[it] is already the envy of the global market and is sure to become a milestone aircraft in aviation history.”