General Dynamics chief executive Jay Johnson says the company's Gulfstream Aerospace unit is moving forward with all "non-flying" aspects of G650 certification while an US National Transportation Safety Board continues its investigation of the 2 April fatal crash of a flight test aircraft, one of five in the nascent fleet.
The NTSB in its initial report noted that the aircraft was performing a take-off with simulated engine failure to determine take-off distance requirements at minimum flap settings when the accident occurred. A final probable determination by the NTSB typically takes 12-18 months. Johnson says the company is working closely with the FAA in consultation with the NTSB to determine when it will be appropriate to resume test flights. Gulfstream had expected to certificate the aircraft this year.
Meanwhile, assembly plans continue for the first tranche of aircraft. "I said we'd deliver approximately 12 green G650s this year, and I'm still in a place where I can do that," said Johnson.
Gulfstream delivered "strong" performance in the quarter, Johnson said, with revenues of $1.4 billion, roughly equal to the revenues from the first quarter of 2010, with a backlog growing to $17.9 billion.
A "healthy" interest in new aircraft is primarily coming from international quarters, accounting for 70% of new orders, said Johnson. Half of those came from the Asia-Pacific region including China, where Gulfstream gained orders for five large-cabin aircraft in the quarter.
Johnson said order activity in the midsize sector, which includes the new G250, was "not as robust, but certainly improving". Gulfstream expects to certificate the G250 this year.