Gulfstream has almost wrapped up certification tests on its G600, with flight into known icing, and function and reliability trials the only evaluations remaining before US approval is granted for the super-large-cabin, long-range business jet later this year.
The five aircraft in the flight-test fleet have accumulated more than 2,700h across 715 sorties, and the aircraft remains on track for service entry in early 2019, the US airframer says.
In October, Gulfstream announced a second range increase for the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW815 powered-G600 since its launch in 2014. The aircraft can now fly 5,500nm (10,200km) at a high-speed cruise of Mach 0.90 – a 700nm increase over its original projection of 4,800nm, and 400nm more than the previous upper figure. Maximum operating speed is M0.925 and its range at normal cruise of M0.85 is 6,500nm.
Sales of the G600 and its smaller sibling, the G500, have started to pick up after a soft third quarter. In a 24 October earnings call, Phebe Novakovic, chief executive of parent company General Dynamics, attributed the slowdown to the “contretemps” surrounding the financial woes of Nordam, the supplier that produced the nacelle system for the PW800 engine.
The Oklahoma-based structures manufacturer suspended production in July due to mounting debts, and entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. “This caused numerous G500 and G600 prospects to hold fire until we could provide more reliable delivery times,” says Novakovic.
Gulfstream acquired the nacelle line for the two aircraft from Nordam in September and is gradually ramping up production. “This is helping our fourth-quarter intake [for the pair],” says Novakovic. “Customers are increasingly comforted and interested because we can now give them a surety that they will get their aircraft on a certain date."
The G500 entered service in September and Gulfstream plans to deliver between eight and 10 units before year-end. Delivery projections for 2019 have not been disclosed.