VIDEO & PICTURES: G650 takes to the skies

Washington DC
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Gulfstream's G650 business jet has flown for the first time at the airframer's Savannah, Georgia facility, less than 20 months after the ultra-long-range aircraft was launched, but the maiden flight was curtailed by an unexpected vibration.

The company's new large-cabin high speed business jet took to the skies at 1841 GMT (1341 ET) for its 12m first flight.

Pres Henne, senior vice president, Programs, Engineering and Test for Gulfstream says the aircraft's "Systems were fully operational. The aircraft achieved an altitude of 6,600 feet and a speed of 170 knots. Flight controls and characteristics performed as expected. We consider this flight a success and look forward to pursuing our full flight-test plan."

 

 

 Gulfstream

 

Shortly after takeoff, the crew of Jake Howard, senior experimental test pilot Tom Horne and flight engineer Bill Osborne experienced what Gulfstream described as a "slight vibration in a landing-gear door" that curtailed first flight as a "precautionary measure".

 

 

 Gulfstream

 

Gulfstream says the vibration in the landing gear door was heard by the crew, which prompted the earlier than planned landing of the aircraft.

Landing gear door vibration is a common occurrence on first flights as the aircraft's external doors are put under high-speed conditions in-flight for the first time.




The maiden sortie kicks off a 1800hr flight test campaign that is expected to culminate in the G650's certification and service entry in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

Gulfstream says the G650 offers the longest range, fastest speed, largest cabin and the most advanced cockpit in the Gulfstream fleet. It features an all-new fuselage cross-section, allowing a wider and taller cabin than the previous top-of-the-line G550 model.

The Rolls-Royce BR725-powered G650 is equipped with Gulfstream's PlaneView II cockpit G650 and is capable of travelling 12,950km (7,000nm) at Mach 0.85. The aircraft has a maximum operating speed of M0.925, "which will make it the fastest civil aircraft flying. It can climb to an altitude of 51,000ft [15,545m], which allows it to avoid traffic and inclement weather", says Gulfstream.