Gulfstream is on the cusp of receiving a pair of key approvals for its G500 and G600 ultra-long-range siblings—European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) validation of the 5,200-nm G500; and U.S. FAA approval for the 6,500-nm G600.
Gulfstream has both on display (SD406) this year, alongside its G280, G550, and flagship G650ER/650ER.
The G500 received U.S. approval in July 2018 and Gulfstream (Booth T139) delivered the first of the model on September 27, 2018. Through the end of March, the company had delivered 17 of the type—including seven in the first quarter. The manufacturer has been in the “final stages” of receiving European approval for the G500, said Colin Miller, newly appointed senior v-p of innovation, engineering, and flight. Gulfstream has worked closely with EASA since early in the development program, Miller said, adding that the company was ironing out the last issues with the regulatory agency.
Deliveries to European customers are anticipated to begin shortly thereafter, but shipments have already begun internationally, with Qatar Airways taking delivery of two of the aircraft at the end of 2018, joining the five Gulfstream G650ERs already in service with the airline’s charter business, Qatar Executive. The Qatar Civil Aviation Authority validated the G500 in October.
By mid-April, the in-service G500 fleet had already accumulated more than 2,000 flight hours, completing trips in the U.S., Europe, the Pacific Islands, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Including flight test time, the G500 fleet has reached more than 7,000 flight hours and 2,575 landings.
As for the G600, Gulfstream anticipates U.S. certification by the end of June with deliveries following later this year. “We're very near the end of flight test,” Scott Neal, senior v-p, worldwide sales, told reporters in early March, saying that at the time, the flight test program had accrued close to 3,000 flight hours in more than 790 flights.
Gulfstream in late winter was working to wrap up flight-into-known-icing (FIKI) and function-and-reliability tests, leaving primarily paperwork to complete after that. On FIKI, Gulfstream was down to the final data points in early March, added Catherine Downen, director of advanced programs, G600.
The G600 program shared much of the same data as the G500, because the G500 is the base type certificate for both models, she said. The G600 was particularly able to benefit from the shared data in a number of aircraft systems. But the G500 and G600 have different wings, which necessitated separate aerodynamics testing, she said.
In lead-up to certification, Gulfstream has been making preparations for a smooth entry into service. Everything is ready to go on the production certificate, Downen said, adding the company anticipated that coming as certification is granted. Gulfstream was awarded G500 type certification and production approval on the same day. In addition, work is underway for interiors supplemental type certifications for the large G600 cabin.
Entry-into-service work also includes flying a fully outfitted model to test all the interior systems at altitude. Two simulators are already in place with FlightSafety for the G500. Since the G500 and G600 have identical flight decks, the simulators can be shared.
Both models are equipped with the Honeywell Primus Epic-based Gulfstream Symmetry flight deck with touchscreen displays and fly-by-wire with active-control side sticks. Miller said the G500/G600 program benefited from the Gulfstream G650 fly-by-wire technology. Calling the system on the G650 a big step forward, Miller added, “The flight controls and the way we did that set the stage for partnering…with the side stick.” The fly-by-wire technology also facilitates other safety enhancements such as high-speed protection, he added.
Both are equipped with a head-up display and enhanced vision system (EVS), and the G500 was the first in the Gulfstream lineup and the first-ever aircraft to receive approval for EVS to land capability. They both will be certified for steep approaches.
The G500 is equipped with 15,144-pound-thrust Pratt & Whitney Canada PW814G engines, while the G600 has 15,680-pound-thrust PW815GA engines. Both have an MMO of Mach 0.925, the same as the G650.
The aircraft not only meet Stage 5 noise standards but also benefit from quiet technology that has been developed with the help of submarine acoustic engineering expertise from Gulfstream parent company General Dynamics to help design that quiet environment, Miller said.
Stressing that “we work hard to give our customers back time,” Miller said that this not only translates into speed but also a G500/G600 program requirement for the ability of the customer to walk up to the airplane that has the door closed and no power and be ready to taxi in 10 minutes. Gulfstream injected multiple technologies in the G500 and G600, such as a data concentration network that consolidates all digital data transfer among aircraft systems.
A primary difference between the G500 and G600 is cabin length. Both can be fitted for 19 passengers and feature 6-foot-, 2-inch-high and 7-foot-, 7-inch-wide cabins. But the 600 has a 45-foot-, 2-inch cabin length, while the 500 has a cabin that is 41 feet, 6 inches long.
The G500 and G600 brought a first for Gulfstream—developing and manufacturing the wings for the aircraft. Gulfstream opened a 290,000-sq-ft building at its Savannah campus specifically to house the G500 and G600 wing and empennage work. The company expanded that facility to 400,000 sq ft as it decided to move some G650 wing work into the facility that was done under subcontract to its wing-maker Triumph.
The 500 and 600 are helping to propel the Gulfstream backlog, which by the end of the first quarter had surpassed the $12 billion mark.
With both the 500 and 600, “we seem to have hit a real sweet spot in Europe,” Neal said. This is particularly true in Western Europe, but activity has been strong throughout the region, including in Russia and Eastern Europe.
But Neal noted that Gulfstream sales in recent quarters have been up across the product line, including in both North America and Europe. “We’ve seen pretty significant traction,” he said. Gulfstream’s European fleet grew 8 percent between 2014 and 2018. Through the end of 2018, Gulfstream had 224 aircraft in the region. Worldwide, the Gulfstream fleet is approaching 3,000 with nearly two-thirds in North America. “The fleet has grown pretty dramatically over the years,” he concluded.