Development of the Gulfstream G500 large-cabin, long-range business jet took another major stride towards certification on 20 February, following the introduction of the airframer’s fourth aircraft into the flight test campaign.
T4 took-off from Gulfstream’s headquarters in Savannah, Georgia at 9:47 local time. During its 3h 17min flight the aircraft climbed to an altitude of 51,000ft, reaching a maximum airspeed of 340kt (630km/h), or Mach 0.925.
Throughout the maiden sortie, Gulfstream says “the crew exercised all primary flight control systems, performed functional checks of air data and cabin pressurisation systems and completed a series of engine performance measures”.
Company president Mark Burns says the addition of T4 to the G500 fight test programme “speaks to the growing maturity” of the aircraft’s development schedule.
The clean-sheet twinjet was launched in October 2014 and made its first flight in May 2015. “To have four first flights and more than 580 flight hours in just nine months is quite an accomplishment,” says Burns.
T4’s induction marks the first time Gulfstream has embedded product support maintenance technicians into the flight test team. Their role is to follow the aircraft through manufacturing and flight testing with the ultimate aim, Burns says, of enhancing “the support available to operators when the aircraft enters service”.
T4 will be used to test avionics, flammable fluid drainage, water ingestion and select systems including water/waste, and lighting and fire protection. The Pratt & Whitney Canada-PW814GA-powered aircraft will also perform flight standardisation and operations evaluations.
Aircraft T1, meanwhile, is focused on envelope expansion; T2 on flight loads validation as well as aircraft performance and systems testing; and T3 is the testbed for the G500’s Symmetry flightdeck – powered by Honeywell's Primus Epic system.
The fifth and final aircraft, P1, is being outfitted at Gulfstream’s completions centre in Savannah and will join the programme shortly. As the first production aircraft, it will be used for interior and cabin systems testing.
The 5,000nm (9,250km)-range G500 is scheduled for US certification and service entry in 2017. Its longer-range stablemate, the G600 – which was launched simultaneously – is earmarked for validation and first deliveries in 2018 and 2019, respectively.