SAVANNAH, Ga., May 16, 2011 — Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. has begun manufacturing the 13th Gulfstream G650 aircraft at its headquarters in Savannah, Ga., as all production, engineering and ground-test activities for the ultra-large-cabin, ultra-long-range aircraft continue on pace. The company is working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to resume the flight-test activities required as part of the aircraft’s type certification.
As manufacturing continues, so, too, do other program activities. The G650 fatigue test article (F6) is now in the structural test hangar, where it will spend the next three years “flying” the equivalent of two and a half life cycles to verify the airframe’s structural durability. Encased in a web of steel tubes, wires, jacks and actuators, the airframe will experience conditions similar to those encountered during 100,000 flying hours over 42,500 flights. A single life cycle is considered 40,000 hours and 17,000 landings.
The G650 flight-test aircraft have accumulated some 1,500 flight hours in an estimated 2,200-hour certification program. The aircraft have already completed a number of test points, including airspeed calibration, flutter, power plant and auxiliary power unit operations, flyover noise and water ingestion.
Gulfstream voluntarily suspended G650 flight testing April 2, following an accident involving the second flight-test aircraft, Serial Number 6002. The accident is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board. Gulfstream is fully cooperating in that investigation.
Preparations for the G650’s 2012 entry into service are also on track. The simulator that will be used to train and certify G650 pilots has been delivered to FlightSafety in Savannah. The full-motion simulator is expected to receive Level D certification from the FAA in 2012. Training time for pilot certification will vary from 13 to 24 days, depending on the pilot’s level of experience with other Gulfstream aircraft.