Gulfstream officially acknowledges that it is continuing its supersonic research, but that it would not launch a programme until regulators in the USA and Europe relax long-standing rules prohibiting supersonic flight over land.

Unofficially, the company's response to a taunt by Cessna issued here yesterday points to launch in the relative near term.

Cessna chief executive Jack Pelton was asked during a press conference how Cessna would respond if Gulfstream's new G650 achieves its stated speed goal of M0.925 - slightly faster than the Cessna Citation X's M0.92 top speed -when the aircraft is certificated in 2013. "If it does, we will make sure that they will be number 2. Don't tell Mr. Henne," he replied, referring to the chief architect of all Gulfstream aircraft, Pres Henne. The Citation X is the world's fastest production business jet.

When alerted to Pelton's fighting words, Gulfstream offered a tease of its own.

"We wish Mr Pelton the very best," company spokesman Robert Baugniet told Flight Evening News. "Enjoy it while you can."

Source: Flight Daily News