Gulfstream Aerospace is bringing its longest-range aircraft, the G650ER, to the European market with the recent issuance of European Aviation Safety Agency approval for private operations. The extended-range version of the G650 was announced during EBACE 2014 and achieved U.S. FAA certification in October that year. Customer deliveries of the 7,500-nm jet began a month later.
The approval is limited to private operations and, for placarded aircraft, charter operations at up to 100,000 pounds. Gulfstream (Booth S141) continues to work toward full validation for commercial operations and hopes to obtain that approval by the end of next year. EASA approval enables customers to register the aircraft in a European Union country.
Certification comes as Gulfstream executives remain encouraged about prospects for the European market. The Gulfstream fleet, now numbering 220 jets in Europe, has grown by 24 percent in the region over the last five years, Gulfstream president Mark Burns said on the eve of EBACE this week. Burns noted the relevance of this show, saying it “has become one of the most important events of the year for us” while stressing that his company is optimistic about its prospects here this week.
Gulfstream also is using EBACE to demonstrate its efforts in biofuels, flying both the G450 and G550 to the event on renewable fuels.
“In 2011, the G450 was the first business jet to cross the Atlantic using biofuels,” Burns said. “The G450 and G550 flights to Geneva are the first transatlantic flights made using our own renewable fuel supply and mark an important milestone in our mission to practice sustainability.” Gulfstream signed a three-year agreement with World Fuel Services last year for a consistent supply of renewable fuels for its flight operations in Savannah. AltAir produces the fuel, a blend of low-carbon renewable fuel and jet-A that Gulfstream said can cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than half.
In addition to the G450 and G550, the entire Gulfstream demonstrattion fleet has now flown using renewable fuels, as has the G500 flight-test fleet.
Scott Neal, senior v-p of worldwide sales and marketing, also provided an update on the progress of the G500 and G600, reiterating that both aircraft remain on schedule. The G500 flight-test fleet surpassed the 1,000-flight-hour mark two weeks ago and has logged 240 flights. During flight-tests, the G500 has reached 53,000 feet and Mach 0.995.
The flight-test program, which currently has four aircraft, is demonstrating “terrific reliability,” Neal said, adding that the fidelity so early in the program “is something we haven’t seen before.” He credits the results to the investments in flight-test labs that have enabled more than 50,000 hours of ground testing and system maturation.
The first production G500 is in completion and expected to fly later this year to test all the systems in a fully outfitted aircraft. The G500, a 5,000-nm aircraft (at Mach 0.85) that features the Symmetry Flight Deck with active-control sidesticks, is expected to be certified next year and enter into service in 2018.
The G600 is moving ahead rapidly behind the G500, with first flight now anticipated later this year, ahead of the original schedule of 2017. The first aircraft’s wings were joined last month and the empennage has been mated to the fuselage. That aircraft, which will fly 6,200 nm at Mach 0.85, is slated to receive certification and enter service about a year behind the G500.