- May 3, 2010, 8:50 AM
The first Gulfstream G650, S/N 6001, yesterday reached its top operating speed of Mach 0.925 during a test flight from the company’s headquarters in Savannah, Ga. When certified, the G650 will become the fastest transport-category aircraft in service, a spot currently held by the Mach 0.92 Cessna Citation X. Gulfstream chief test pilot John O’Meara and senior experimental test pilot Tom Horne piloted the 34-minute flight, reaching 42,500 feet and including banking maneuvers. To date, the G650 has amassed 163 flight hours in 57 flights. It has also completed all structural-limit load testing, as required by the FAA and EASA. The completion of the structural testing was a “key milestone” that allowed the company to flight test the aircraft at the maximum operating speed of 340 kcas and Mach 0.925. The aircraft will eventually undergo testing at the maximum dive speed of 385 kcas and Mach 0.99. By the end of the month, Gulfstream expects two more test aircraft to join the two G650s that are already flying. The company said the wide-cabin, ultra-long-range aircraft is on track for FAA and EASA certification next year, as well as entry into service in 2012.