EBACE Convention News

New Gulfstream Jets Make International Debuts

 - May 13, 2012, 2:30 PM
Both the large-cabin G650 and the super-midsize G280, pictured here, took time off from the flight test program to make their EBACE debut.

Gulfstream’s G650, the U.S. manufacturer’s largest, fastest flying jet, made its first transoceanic crossing to appear here at the EBACE show, having touched down at Geneva Airport on Saturday evening. Both the G650 and the super mid-size G280, which landed Saturday morning, are making their European debuts. They flew in from Washington, D.C.’s Dulles International. Gulfstream intends to apply for city-pair speed records from the U.S. National Aeronautic Association for the flights.

The two new aircraft types, flying under experimental certificates, are on parallel paths to certification from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and European Aviation Safety Agency. Certification of each is planned this year.

“Clearly, it’s important to demonstrate the performance in the real world of the aircraft,” said Jeff Miller, Gulfstream vice president of communications. “EBACE being such an important venue gave us an opportunity to do that.”

The G650 completed the flight to Geneva in just six hours and 55 minutes, landing just before sunset. The green, unpainted aircraft, flew at an altitude of 43,000 feet at speeds of Mach 0.90 to Mach 0.92, covering a ground track of 3,780 nm. Sharing piloting duties were Scott Buethe, Gulfstream senior experimental test pilot, and senior production test pilots Ahmed Ragheb and Rick Gowthrop. They were accompanied by a fourth crew member, flight-test engineer David Chalk.

The flight afforded Gulfstream pilots an opportunity to test future navigation capabilities for controller-pilot data link communications and automatic dependent surveillance-contract, both of which worked well, according to Buethe.

“This is an important milestone,” he said. Buethe, who was exclusively interviewed by AIN at the Jet Aviation FBO immediately after landing, said, “We very much wanted to support EBACE. Our primary focus has been certifying the airplane. It does take away from the test program to pull an airplane out so we can come show it to you, but we feel it’s well worth that.”

As of the crossing, the production aircraft, S/N 6020, had logged just under 20 flight hours. The G650 was flown from Gulfstream headquarters in Savannah, Georgia, to Washington Dulles earlier on Saturday. It will be on static display at EBACE, but only until Monday evening.

The G280 touched down on Geneva Airport Runway 23 at 10 a.m. under low-hanging clouds, following a seven-hour, 47-minute flight from Washington Dulles. The aircraft, S/N 2004, is the first production G280 and comes with a completed cabin interior. There are three preproduction flight test aircraft.

The G280, which will be displayed at EBACE on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, was flown by Brett Rundle, chief pilot for mid-cabin with Gulfstream Aerospace, and international demonstration pilot Chip Leonard. Butch Allen, chief production test pilot for Mid-Cabin, sat in the jump seat. They were accompanied by a flight attendant and four technicians from Gulfstream’s Mid-Cabin Completions Center in Dallas, where the flight originated Friday.

The crew completed the Dallas-to-Dulles leg in two hours and two minutes with nine total aboard, including two sound engineers. “They wanted to get a sound reading to see where the airplane is compared to our target,” Rundle said of the engineers. “The airplane was, happily I would say, right on the spec target for the dB level in the cabin and the cockpit that they were shooting for.”

Rundle said the G280 took off from Washington Dulles at 39,600 pounds maximum takeoff weight and flew at an altitude of 43,000 feet with an average Mach number of 0.80. The aircraft, which will be certified for a range of 3,600 nm, covered a ground distance of 3,682 nm, aided by 20-knot tailwind. It landed with 1,800 pounds of fuel, enough to fly another 90 minutes.

“The G280 is the newest entry into the super-midsize category,” Rundle told AIN. “It’s got very impressive speed and range capability. Its short-field performance is outstanding. The climb capability is very impressive. I think it’s significant in that market segment to bring this airplane here and showcase what it can do.”

Rundle said the G280 is more than an evolution of the G200 airframe on which it is based, and more akin to flying the G450 and G550 large-cabin long-range jets. He noted the G280’s new T-tail with fly-by-wire rudder, increased-thrust Honeywell HTF7250G engines and larger wing with heated leading edge and new winglet design.

The glass cockpit Gulfstream PlaneView 280 flight deck is based on the Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion avionics suite. “I’ve been flying mid-cabin airplanes–the Galaxy/G200–since 2000,” he said. “I’ve been on that program since the very beginning. I’m also type-rated on the 450 and the 550. But I would say I’ve benefited more in transitioning to the 280 from my knowledge on the 450/550. Systemswise, it shares much more in common with those aircraft.”