The third Gulfstream G600 test aircraft successfully completed its first flight Friday, taking off at 8:51 a.m. from Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport and flying for a total of 4 hours and 35 minutes before returning.
The G600, the second of two new business jets announced by the company in 2014, is on track for first customer deliveries next year.
“The consistent execution of the G600 flight-test program is directly correlated to our investments in research and development and is a testament to the rigor and discipline of our processes,” said Gulfstream president Mark Burns.
“We take great pride in ensuring we deliver on our promises and look forward to our G600 entering service next year.”
The aircraft will undergo numerous system tests required for its anticipated 2018 certification by the Federal Aviation Administration, including field performance testing to assess handling in multiple runway configurations.
The tests provide vital statistics needed to generate takeoff and landing data for the Flight Manual’s environmental conditions and configurations.
The G600 flew its maiden voyage on Dec. 17, 2016. The second G600 test aircraft flew approximately two months later on Feb. 24. A fourth G600 is currently in production and expected to join the test fleet in the third quarter of this year.
Gulfstream’s smaller, shorter range G500, is further along in its test program and is expected to be delivered to its first customer late this year.
The five aircraft currently in the G500 test flight program have logged more than 2,600 flight hours and Gulfstream is confident it will secure certification later this year and enter service shortly thereafter, according to FlightGlobal, an industry-leading provider of data, news and analysis in the aviation market.
Phebe Novakovic, chairman of Gulfstream’s parent, General Dynamics Corp., told analysts on a conference call last month that the company has noted a sharp increase in business jet interest and activity level in Europe, as well as some in China.
ABOUT THE G600
The all-new Gulfstream G600 is an ultralong-range, wide-body business jet that features Gulfstream’s trademarked Symmetry Flight Deck, technology that includes active control sidesticks, integrated touchscreen controllers, a next-generation enhanced vision system and high-tech Honeywell avionics.
Like the flagship G650 and G650ER, the G600 will offer a digital fly-by-wire system with such benefits as flight-envelope protection, stability augmentation, increased redundancy and reduced maintenance. Powered by new Pratt & Whitney Canada PW800 series engines, the G600 has a maximum range of 6,200 nautical miles, a maximum operating speed of Mach 0.925 and a maximum cruising altitude of 51,000 feet. Capable of carrying up to 19 passengers, the G600 is projected to sell for $54.5 million.