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Gulfstream G650 flies through 700 hours on way to 2011 certification

Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. today announced that the ultra-large-cabin, ultra-long-range Gulfstream G650 recently completed several tests required as part of its certification by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), including flutter, in-flight loads, flammable fluid drainage and ingestion, and water ingestion.

Initial certification tests were conducted during envelope expansion when the absence of flutter was shown out to the design dive speed (Vd) and design Mach dive speed (Md). During these tests, the aircraft achieved a top speed of Mach 0.995 and demonstrated acceptable damping responses following an input from an external test device.

In addition, certification data has been obtained for the in-flight measurement of aerodynamics loads on the wing, tail and fuselage.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) began participating in certification testing of the G650 when it issued the first Type Inspection Authorization (TIA) in late August. The document authorizes the regulatory agency to conduct the tests required as part of the effort for the aircraft to receive its type certificate, which Gulfstream anticipates receiving in 2011. The FAA issued the TIA for the flammable fluid drainage and ingestion test, which demonstrates that fluids will drain properly from various zones around the aircraft and will not accumulate in excessive quantities.

"This shows that we've reached the point in the flight-test program where FAA test crews are flying on the aircraft and collecting the data necessary to support certification," said Barry McCarthy, director, Flight Test, Gulfstream. "It also means that our product development team has satisfied a number of engineering pre-requisites. On all fronts, our test program is progressing in support of our aircraft certification schedule."

The fluid drainage and ingestion testing was conducted using the second aircraft in the flight-test program, Serial Number (S/N) 6002. After entering flight test on Feb. 25, the aircraft completed initial anti-skid brake tuning and ram-air turbine testing. Earlier this year, the aircraft traveled to the Climatic Testing Facility at Eglin Air Force Base to test component cooling and system operations during weather extremes ranging from -40 to 55 degrees Celsius.

Since making its flying debut on Nov. 25, 2009, S/N 6001 has performed a number of tests, including aerodynamic stall testing to validate low-speed limits and stall characteristics. It has also been involved in parameter identification testing to validate the aerodynamic models used for engineering analysis for control-law development. The aircraft has also confirmed a wide range of data, including minimum control air speeds, initial cruise performance, and flight-control system/flight-control law performance. The program's second TIA for water-ingestion tests was recently completed at NASA's facility at Wallops Island, Va. These tests demonstrated that on a runway with standing water, the aircraft and engine operations were not appreciably affected by water ingestion.

Since joining flight test in May, S/N 6003 has been used to measure in-flight loads and validate the initial PlaneViewTM avionics, auto-pilot and flight management systems.

"As the test program continues, the outstanding performance of the flight-control and fly-by-wire systems has been one of the highlights," said Pres Henne, senior vice president, Programs, Engineering and Test, Gulfstream. "The absence of any serious issues attests to the investment we made into the Iron Bird, a ground-based test structure designed to replicate the actual aircraft. The Iron Bird has allowed our engineers and suppliers to verify and validate the system design requirements and identify and resolve issues well in advance of the flight-test program."

For the first time, Gulfstream is also testing an aircraft outfitted with a full interior. S/N 6004, which flew for the first time June 6, had its interior installed over the summer and has resumed flight test.

Since the flight-test program officially began on Nov. 29, 2010, the four aircraft in the program have accumulated more than 700 hours over more than 200 flights, as of Oct. 12.

"We are encouraged at the overall reliability of the G650," Henne said. "As the test aircraft continue to fly, they are coming back without squawks. That's a very good indication for our program and customers."

Testing also continues in the G650 Integration Test Facility (ITF) at Gulfstream's Savannah headquarters. Engineers have been using the facility to integrate the software and hardware for the aircraft's systems and to perform the human-factors testing required for certification. For the first time in Gulfstream's history, the ITF also includes a full-size mock-up of the G650 cabin systems to support Gulfstream's Cabin EssentialTM design philosophy, which ensures that systems are designed with redundancy to prevent single-point failure

The G650 offers the longest range at the fastest speed in its class. Powered by best-in-class Rolls-Royce BR725 engines, the business jet is capable of traveling 7,000 nautical miles (12,964 km) at Mach 0.85 and has a maximum operating speed of Mach 0.925.

Gulfstream announced the G650 program on March 13, 2008. On Sept. 29, 2009, the aircraft rolled out under its own power in front of a crowd of more than 7,000 people. It completed its first flight on Nov. 25, 2009, and remains on schedule for entry-into-service in 2012.

Press release issued by Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation on October 18, 2010


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