Gulfstream performed the maiden sortie of its third G600 prototype on 5 May, putting the large-cabin, long-range business jet programme on track for certification and service entry in 2018.
The G600 – registration N730GD – took off from Gulfstream’s Savannah, Georgia headquarters at 08:51 local time for a 4h 35min flight.
It will be used for systems evaluation and field performance testing to assess handling in multiple runway configurations and generate take-off and landing data.
The milestone comes five months after the arrival of the first G600 launched the certification effort. The second flight-test aircraft joined the line-up in February and the pair have since logged over 360h in 80 sorties. The fourth prototype is now in production and is scheduled to join its stablemates in the third quarter.
The G600 programme was launched in 2014, alongside the smaller and shorter-range G500. The pair are designed with 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.
The five aircraft in the G500 flight test campaign have logged more than 2,600h, and Gulfstream is confident it will secure certification later this year, leading to service entry shortly after.
Phebe Novakovic, chief executive of Gulfstream's parent General Dynamics, signalled during the company’s earnings call on 27 April that G500 flight testing would be complete in late October. "This leads us to believe that [US] Federal Aviation Administration certification will follow within 60 days thereafter," she said.
Novakovic says one G500 will be delivered in 2017. "We'll have multiple green airplanes," she says. "But just right now, we're looking at one completed entry-into-service airplane."
The G500 is scheduled to make its debut at the European business aviation convention and exhibition (EBACE) which will held in Geneva from 22-24 May.