US business jet manufacturer Gulfstream has flown the seventh production example of its new ultra-long range G650.

The 1h flight on 10 November was used to perform a basic systems and functionality check of the green aircraft.

The airframer expects to deliver 10 to 12 of the Rolls-Royce BR725-powered aircraft to completion centres this year, ahead of entry into service in early 2012.

It anticipates gaining provisional type certification on the G650 later this year, with full certification following in the first quarter of 2012.

Gulfstream has conducted a series of meetings with the first 30 customers for the type - and with another 30 customers for the super midsize G280, which also debuts next year - to prepare them for service entry.

"We shared with them the problems we have had and the parts we have removed. It's a key element [of entry into service], setting their expectations," said Mark Burns, president product support at Gulfstream.

"We want to be as transparent as we can so they are not surprised by anything."

Another meeting is scheduled for January next year, with involvement from the aircraft's key suppliers also likely.

Production of the G650 will increase at a rate of 10 aircraft a year "for the next few years" added a company spokesman.

Meanwhile, Gulfstream is hoping its new optional Elite interior - a modified version of the standard interior on the G650 - for the G450 and G550 will give a new lease of life to the large cabin types.

Introduced in 2004 and 2003 respectively, the aircraft have undergone little interior modification since launch.

Customer demand has driven the update, said Matt Lewis, Gulfstream operations manager for the G450 and G550. "They like the airplanes, but feel the interior is starting to look out of date," he said.

The Elite option offers more cabin width and headroom, an updated, more-spacious galley and Gulfstream's iPad Touch-based cabin management system.

"There was lots of positive reaction to the new interior [at NBAA]," said Lewis. "When people who are familiar with the G450 step inside they see a difference - it's brighter and roomier."

Gulfstream is fitting out a G550 with the interior for delivery in April 2012. It has no plans to offer it as a retrofit.

Source: Flight International