Flight testing of Gulfstream’s GV-SP is back on pace following a schedule interruption caused by last month’s terrorist attacks. The latest ultra-long-range business jet from Gulfstream Aerospace, the GV-SP made its first flight on August 31, four weeks ahead of schedule and well on the way to an expected certification date late next year.
The follow-on to the successful Gulfstream V was introduced at last year’s NBAA Convention in New Orleans and promised “true 6,750-nm range,” a 20-percent increase in usable cabin space, the new Primus Epic avionics suite from Honeywell and a “PlaneView” cockpit defined by Gulfstream’s cursor-control device (CCD), Kollsman’s enhanced vision system (EVS) and Honeywell’s 2020 head-up display (HUD) as standard equipment. A “significant portion” of the initial test program involved the PlaneView cockpit systems, including the EVS and HUD.
According to Gulfstream president and COO Bill Boisture, PlaneView, based on the Primus Epic architecture, will give pilots real-time information on airports, weather, air traffic and terrain, all displayed on 14-in. flat-screen LCD monitors. “Not only will the system greatly improve situational awareness for pilots, but it will also provide information required to make safe flying decisions in low-visibility and adverse weather conditions.”
The gain in cabin space is the result of new technology that allowed engineers to replace the old “radio rack” storage aft of the cockpit bulkhead with “a fourth living area” and a seventh window forward on the starboard side. The increased cabin volume allows the aircraft to carry 16 passengers comfortably and to berth up to eight. “This is a significant advancement in passenger comfort,” said Joe Walker, senior v-p of worldwide sales.
The crew for the first flight included pilot-in-command John O’Meara, copilot Tom Horne and flight-test engineer Bill Osborne. Throughout a series of tests, the crew verified engine and control system responses, monitored engine operational clearance throughout the flight envelope, and reached 41,000 ft altitude and the aircraft’s ultra-long-range cruise speed of Mach 0.80.
The first test aircraft was actually a Gulfstream V, much modified to replicate a GV-SP prototype, and is the first of three test articles in the certification program. The first fully conforming GV-SP is expected to fly next summer. The third aircraft in the program is also a modified GV and will be used in aerodynamic tests.
The Gulfstream V-SP launch order came from Executive Jet for 20 aircraft to be deployed in its NetJets fractional-ownership program. Among the most recent orders was one from the newly formed United BizJet Holdings. The Chicago-based company, created by UAL Corp., placed an order for Gulfstream business jets that included options for 14 GV-SPs.
Gulfstream recently assured customers that with 6,750 nm range at Mach 0.80, “the GV-SP can fly nonstop from New York to Tokyo [with eight passengers] guaranteed.” Part of Gulfstream’s confidence in the extended range comes from a number of aerodynamic modifications and reduced fuel burn from twin Rolls-Royce BR710 turbofans with 4.3 percent more thrust.
According to senior v-p of programs Preston Henne, drag has been reduced by about 2 percent and specific fuel consumption by 1.5 percent.
The basic operating weight of the GV-SP is 48,300 lb, an increase of 300 lb over the GV. And although the mtow remains the same at 91,000 lb, a change in the c.g. along with other refinements has shortened the takeoff distance from 6,110 ft to 6,000 ft (sl, ISA).
The typically equipped and completed GV-SP is being priced at about $45 million. A similar GV currently goes for about $40.5 million and a similarly equipped Global Express from competitor Bombardier is selling for $40.7 million.