Gulfstream G650 reaches 700 hours on way to 2011 certification

Terry Spruce

Gulfstream Aerospace Corp 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 25 November 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 on 6
June, had its interior installed over the summer and has resumed flight test.

Since the flight-test program officially began on 29
November 2009, the four aircraft in the program have accumulated more than 700
hours over more than 200 flights, as of 12 October.

“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 13 March
2008. On 29 September 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 25
November 2009, and remains on schedule for entry-into-service in 2012.

RELATED ARTICLES

  • Gulfstream has appointed Charles Celli

    READ MORE
  • Gulfstream appoints Pedro Ruiz Regional Vice President of Sales for Brazil and Southern South America

    READ MORE
  • Gulfstream delivers 300th G450 private jet

    READ MORE