Gulfstream’s new G600 large-cabin business jet made its first flight on Saturday, beginning a flight test program that is set to lead to type certification and first deliveries in 2018. The U.S. manufacturer has delivered two other G600 test aircraft into its flight test center and these are expected to make first flights early in 2017 after being fitted with test equipment.
The first test aircraft took off from Gulfstream’s headquarters at Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport at 1.50 p.m. and flew for 2 hours and 53 minutes. Experimental test pilots Scott Martin and Todd Abler, accompanied by flight test engineer Nathaniel Rutland, flew the aircraft.
The first G600 is now being used for envelope expansion and flutter testing. Gulfstream expects the G600’s flight test program to follow a similar pattern to that of its smaller G500 sister ship, with which is shares a high degree of technical commonality. Gulfstream has completed more than 57,000 hours of ground laboratory testing for the two new models.
“Launching the G600’s flight-test program is a milestone for us and our customers, who have guided the vision for this aircraft from the beginning,” said Gulfstream president Mark Burns. “We look forward to delivering this aircraft to them in 2018. Today’s flight, which went flawlessly, represents a significant step forward in the journey to certification and delivery. The flight went exactly as anticipated, thanks in large part to the investments that we have made in our ground-based laboratories.”
The G600 will deliver range of up to 6,200 nm at speeds of Mach 0.85, or up to 4,800 nm at Mach 0.90. As for the current G650ER, maximum operating speed will be Mach 0.925.
Meanwhile, the new G500 model being developed in tandem with the G600 is ahead of schedule to achieve type certification, with projected first deliveries having been brought forward to late 2017. Its maximum range is 5,000 nm. As of December 19, the five G500 test aircraft had conducted 494 flights, logging 2,015 flight hours.
The cabin interior of the G600 is almost three feet longer than that of the G500 (at 45 feet 2 inches versus 41 feet 6 inches). The larger model has a higher max takeoff weight of 91,600 pounds (versus 76,840 pounds). It is powered by a pair of 15,680-pound-thrust Pratt & Whitney Canada PW815GA turbofans.
The G600 cabin, which Gulfstream claims to be the longest in its class, can include four separate areas for up to 19 passengers (with sleeping accommodation for 9). Like the G500, it has 14 large windows providing plenty of natural light and panoramic views. Cabin altitude is set at 4,850 feet and passengers also benefit from 100 percent fresh air.