NBAA Convention News

G250’s powered rollout signals nearing first flight

 - October 19, 2009, 1:49 PM

Gulfstream and Israel Aerospace Industries publically introduced the first example of the Gulfstream G250 at IAI’s facility on Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, two weeks before the opening of this year’s NBAA Convention in Orlando. The new super-midsize jet, which has its roots in the G200 and was launched by IAI and Gulfstream at last year’s NBAA Convention, taxied under its own power to a hangar where some 600 people gathered to watch its debut.

Gulfstream bought the Astra and Galaxy type certificates from IAI in 2001, with the goal of expanding its product line. The Savannah OEM then rebranded the IAI midsize business jets the G100 and G200, respectively, and took over their completions, painting, marketing and, later, product support. IAI remained the manufacturer of the Astra and Galaxy jets, and continues as the airframe builder for the G150, G200 and G250, which will eventually replace the G200.

“We’ve sold 226 G200s,” said Pres Henne, Gulfstream senior vice president, programs, engineering and test, said at the G250 rollout in Tel Aviv. “Customers told us the cabin is terrific, but that we needed to improve the cockpit and performance.” IAI and Gulfstream began working on the G250 design in 2003. Both companies characterized the development as a “collaboration” and a “joint-design effort.”

Although an IAI official said eight G250s had been ordered to date, Gulfstream would not confirm this, explaining that General Dynamics, Gulfstream’s parent, is in a “quiet period” prior to the release of its third-quarter earnings report. The base price of the G250 is $24 million (2008 $). Officials from both companies expressed optimism that the market for business jets will recover and that their companies will continue to invest in and develop the aircraft. Said Henne, “The market for midsize aircraft has definitely seen a reduction, but we think we’ve seen the bottom. The most recent indicators for this market are slightly positive.”

Like the G650, which is under development by Gulfstream alone, the G250 is slated to obtain a new type certificate (TC), although it is to be issued by the Israeli CAA, while the FAA is to approve the G650. Validations of the G200’s TC by the FAA and EASA are to follow. The last time Gulfstream obtained an original TC was in 1967, when the FAA issued the GII its certificate. All Gulfstream large-cabin jets since then have been revisions to that TC. The Galaxy received FAA Part 25 certification in 1998.

The most significant difference between the G250 and the G200 is the wing, which is longer, larger, more swept and cleaner on the G250. The wingtips were also redesigned. The transonic wing, built by Spirit Aerosystems of Wichita, includes a three-panel, fly-by-wire spoiler system, simple trailing edge flaps with no leading-edge devices and anti-ice protection provided by engine bleed air instead of the G100/200’s de-icer boots. Very simply, the 250’s wing resembles the wings on Gulfstream’s large-cabin jets more than it does the 200’s, Mark Kohler, Gulfstream director of mid-cabin research and development, told NBAA Convention News.

Along with more powerful engines, the new wing is largely responsible for the 250’s improved performance numbers over those of the 200, performance being one of the items on the list of improvements that Gulfstream gleaned from its Advanced Technology Customer Advisory Team, a subset of its Customer Advisory Board. Included on this list were a balanced field length of less than 5,000 feet, a range at Mach 0.80 of more than 3,400 nm, an initial cruise altitude of 41,000 feet and a payload of more than 900 pounds, all of which computer simulations and wind-tunnel testing attest the G250 will attain.

“Our customers played a significant role in the design of this aircraft,” Henne said. “Because of our customers’ input, this aircraft features increased speed and range, excellent takeoff performance [and other] elements that make the G250 a best-in-class aircraft and one its owners can appreciate and fly with pride.”

Other significant and noticeable differences between the 200 and 250 include a T-tail (replacing the 200’s cruciform tail), which also improves performance while providing a decidedly Gulfstream look–another customer request, Kohler said. The G250’s Honeywell HTF7250 turbofans, rated at 7,445 pounds thrust, are more powerful than the G200’s Pratt & Whitney Canada PW306As and quiet enough to exceed Stage IV noise requirements by 13 EPN db.

Customers said they wanted the G250 to maintain the “ramp presence” of the G200, explained Kohler, meaning they wanted to be able to keep it in the same size hangar as the 200. As a result, the 250’s wingspan is only five feet longer, its total length six feet longer and its tail no higher than the 200. The 250’s fuselage appears longer, however, because of the addition of two extra windows on both sides, placed aft of those on the G200. This brings the total number of windows on the G250 to 19, nine on the left side and 10 on the right (the tenth window is opposite the cabin door on the left side). The additional windows provide more illumination in the cabin itself and in the wider lav, which will feature the first vacuum toilet in a midsize-cabin jet.

Making possible the added windows was the removal of the 200’s aft-fuselage fuel tank, which increased usable cabin volume by 67 cu ft (to 935 cu ft) and provides in-flight access to the 120-cu-ft baggage compartment. Cabin length increased to 25.8 feet from 24.4. Otherwise, the 250’s fuselage is virtually unchanged from the 200’s, and in fact, it will be manufactured on the same tooling as the 200’s fuselage is now. The increase in usable cabin space also gives more flexibility for interior layouts, with room for up to 10 passengers, which is the same as the 200.

Gulfstream has created three standard cabin layouts (with max seating for eight, nine or 10 passengers), which all feature more storage space (34 cu ft) in the cabin than typical 200 layouts, as well as a cabin management system that uses a design philosophy Gulfstream calls Cabin Essential. Also being applied to the G650, Cabin Essential provides redundancy to all cabin systems (voice communication, light, power, entertainment and water) so that no single-point failure will result in a loss of function. Improvements to the cabin pressurization system–rated at 9.2 psi differential pressure compared with 8.9 psi in the G200–provide 100-percent fresh air up to a maximum cabin altitude of 7,000 feet at 45,000 feet in the G250, versus 8,000 feet in the G200.

To compensate for the elimination of the aft-fuselage fuel tank, Kohler said, a conformal fuel tank was added behind the wing. (The 200’s front conformal fuel tank remains in the 250.) The larger wing also contains more fuel than the previous wing. However, total fuel weight in the G250 ends up 400 pounds less than in the G200, but the more aerodynamically efficient wing and more fuel-efficient engines make up for the difference in fuel quantity.

The most noticeable change in the cockpit are the three 15-inch, adaptive LCD screens, which are part of the Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion avionics and trademarked the PlaneView250 in the new Gulfstream. The system includes advanced graphics and synoptics, dual FMS with automatic-descent mode, RNP 0.3 capability and Gulfstream’s joystick-like cursor-control devices. Jeppesen charts and graphical weather from Universal Weather & Aviation’s FlightDeck Connect service can be displayed on the screens. A new standby multifunction controller with an LCD screen takes the 250’s cockpit a step above even the G550 cockpit. The G650 also has this feature. Two PlaneBook tablet computers, which contain the aircraft quick reference guide, aircraft flight manual, weight-and-balance calculator and other information, will be provided. Available as options will be a HUD II heads-up display, EVS II enhanced-vision system (EVS II) and SV-PFD synthetic vision on the primary flight display.

Pilots will also appreciate the G250’s dual auto throttles, fly-by-wire rudder and spoiler systems, trimmable horizontal stabilizer and Meggitt brake-by-wire system with auto braking.

Technicians will appreciate the airplane’s onboard-maintenance system, wireless database loading and next-generation publications using 3-D data. Gulfstream plans to warrant the G250’s primary and secondary structures for 10 years or 10,000 hours, including labor, while Honeywell will warrant the engines for five years or 3,000 hours. Parts and labor for repair of avionics and all other production components will be covered for five years and the interior for two years.

While the G250 was announced at NBAA 2008, Gulfstream and IAI launched the program internally in 2005. Three flying aircraft–the first airplane (test-aircraft one, or T-1, which rolled out in Tel Aviv last week), T-2 and P-1 (production-aircraft one)–are planned to fly some 1,300 hours in the flight test and certification program. Two nonflying aircraft–the structural-test article (S-1) and fatigue-test article (F-1)–complete the test fleet. Certification and entry into service of the G250 are both expected in 2011.