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G500 edges closer to certification milestone

Gulfstream's G500 has passed another key milestone on its way to hitting a target of certification and service entry by year-end, with the US Federal Aviation Administration issuing type inspection authorisation, allowing the agency to evaluate the large-cabin, long-range business jet in flight.

The five G500 flight-test aircraft have logged more than 3,100h across 820 sorties and are “performing reliably and on schedule,” says Gulfstream.

The airframer recently completed a number of critical tests, covering cabin systems, brakes, lighting, fly-over noise and fuel systems, it adds.

Its fifth G500 – a production-representative aircraft, featuring a full interior – will be the first example to enter service, and will be used as a company demonstrator. Customer deliveries of the 5,000nm (9,250km)-range type are scheduled to begin in early 2018.

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Gulfstream

The G500 was launched in 2014, along with the larger-cabin and longer-range G600. The pair feature Gulfstream’s widest-ever cabin, Pratt & Whitney Canada PW800 engines, fly-by-wire controls and an industry-first application of active control sidesticks in a commercial aircraft.

Gulfstream says the four G600 test aircraft have amassed nearly 800h across 170 flights since the arrival of the first prototype in December 2016 kicked off the certification effort.

The fifth and final G600 – the production-conforming model – is now being outfitted at Gulfstream’s Savannah completions centre in preparation for its maiden sortie in the third quarter. Certification and service entry for the 6,200nm-range aircraft are slated for 2018.

Sales of the G500 and G600 have remained consistent, helping Gulfstream to retain its dominance of the large-cabin business aircraft segment, in which it also competes with the in-production G550 and G650/ER. During a 26 July earnings call, Phebe Novakovic, chief executive of parent company General Dynamics, said its large-cabin family accounted for 80% of the orders it received during the second quarter.

“The G500 and G600 continued to build backlog in advance of their entry-into-service, sufficient to ensure the success of these programmes,” she says.

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Gulfstream

For the three months ended 30 June, Gulfstream delivered 23 large-cabin and seven midsize business jets. While this marks a six-unit slide in large-cabin shipments compared with the same period in 2016, the company expects the annual delivery tally to remain unchanged this year at 115 units – 88 large and 27 midsize G280s .

“While we read the reports of weak demand and reduced deliveries across the industry, our experience is reasonable and steady demand for our products,” Novakovic says. “We will deliver as many airplanes this year as we did last.”

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