On the heels of EBACE (European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition) Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. provided an update on its all-new aircraft family, the Gulfstream G500 and G600. Both are well under way, with two of five G500 flight-test aircraft complete and the remaining three in production. After completing operational checks and taxi validation, the G500 took to the air May 18, 2015, for its first flight out of Savannah-Hilton Head Airport.
The aircraft climbed to an initial altitude of 10,500 ft (3200 m) and reached a maximum altitude of 15,000 ft (4572 m). During the 2.25-h flight, the crew exercised all primary flight control systems; evaluated handling qualities in takeoff and landing configurations; performed a simulated approach and go-around; and checked all systems using the Symmetry flight deck touchscreen controllers. The aircraft achieved a maximum air speed of 194 knots.
Years before this first flight, Gulfstream established four labs dedicated to the G500 program, including:
• A Conceptual Advanced Simulation Environment to develop fly-by-wire control laws and perform human factors evaluations,
• A systems integration bench to integrate the avionics and aircraft systems with the aircraft’s Data Concentration Network,
• A full flight deck integration test facility (ITF) to evaluate major avionic and aircraft systems and software. The ITF also includes an outfitted cabin to test the galley, the Gulfstream Cabin Management System and other interior elements, and
• An iron bird—a spatially correct, dimensionally accurate structure, including the flight deck, used to rigorously evaluate the fly-by-wire flight controls, hydraulics, electrical systems and landing gear.
The G500 flight-test program consists of five aircraft, including a fully outfitted production aircraft that will allow the company to test all the interior elements and complete integration of the aircraft systems with the passenger experience.
Gulfstream introduced the G500 and G600 last October at one of its new manufacturing facilities in Savannah, GA. During the event, the first G500 rolled out under its own power.
Since then, Gulfstream inducted two G500 aircraft into the flight-test center in preparation for the official launching the flight-test program. Ground vibration and structural mode interaction testing were completed, the structural test article achieved limit load, and all suppliers validated the aircraft safety-of-flight requirements before clearing the aircraft for flight.
Gulfstream has also started manufacturing the first G600 aircraft, which will be used as part of the four-aircraft flight-test program. Wind-tunnel testing for both aircraft has been completed, and more than 34,000 hours of lab testing have been logged. Additionally, the company recently started testing in the G600 ITF and initiated construction of the G600 iron bird, which will allow full evaluation of the aircraft’s systems and software.
In February, Pratt & Whitney Canada had received certification of the aircraft’s PW814GA and PW815GA engines by Transport Canada in February.
The G500 will be able to fly 5000 nmi (9260 km) at Mach 0.85 or 3800 nmi (7038 km) at Mach 0.90, while the G600 will be able to carry passengers 6200 nmi (11,482 km) at Mach 0.85 and 4800 nmi (8890 km) at Mach 0.90. The maximum operating speed for the aircraft is Mach 0.925, the same maximum speed as Gulfstream’s G650 and G650ER.
The G500 and G600's new intuitive Symmetry Flight Deck features cutting-edge technology in the form of active control sidesticks, integrated touchscreen controllers, a next-generation enhanced vision system, and Honeywell Primus Epic avionics.
The G500 and G600 can carry up to 19 passengers. The optimized wide cabin also features a cabin altitude of 4850 ft (1478 m) at FL510 and what Gulfstream describes as “100% fresh air that boosts mental alertness and productivity while reducing fatigue.”
Gulfstream anticipates certification of the G500 in 2017, with entry into service in 2018. The G600 certification is slated to follow in 2018 with entry into service in 2019.
In other Gulfstream news, it and its fuel supplier, World Fuel Services Inc., recently finalized a three-year agreement that provides Gulfstream with a consistent supply of renewable fuels for its daily flight operations in Savannah.
The fuel is a 30/70 blend of low-carbon, drop-in renewable fuel and Jet-A. It provides the same performance as conventional, petroleum-based jet fuel and requires no changes to factory-standard engines or aircraft. It is derived from agricultural waste and is certified to meet the same industry specifications as petroleum Jet-A. World Fuel will manage the logistics of bringing the renewable fuel to Savannah.
Each gallon of renewable fuel burned is expected to achieve a more than 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, relative to petroleum-based jet fuel, on a life-cycle basis.
Gulfstream will initially use renewable fuels on its Airborne Product Support aircraft, which are operated by Gulfstream’s Savannah-based Field and Airborne Support Teams (FAST). FAST includes technicians and flight crews who travel on dedicated Gulfstream G150 aircraft to deliver parts and/or people to Gulfstream operators within North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. In the last year, airborne FAST crews have completed more than 300 missions.
The fuel will also be used for corporate flights, flight-test aircraft, and, eventually, customer aircraft.
Sustainability certification will be secured through the Roundtable for Sustainable Biomaterials, an international multi-stakeholder initiative that brings together farmers, companies, non-governmental organizations, experts, governments, and intergovernmental agencies concerned with ensuring the sustainability of biomass production and processing.
Gulfstream’s sustainability strategy supports the business aviation industry goals established by the National Business Aviation Association, the General Aviation Manufacturing Association, and the International Business Aviation Council. Those goals include carbon-neutral growth by 2020, an improvement in fuel efficiency by an average of 2% a year until 2020, and a reduction in total carbon dioxide emissions by 50% by 2050 relative to 2005.