By Mary Grady, Contributing editor
Gulfstream's newest business jet, the large-cabin, long-range G650, flew for the first time on Wednesday afternoon, in Savannah, Ga. Shortly after takeoff, the crew was alerted to a slight vibration in a landing-gear door, and returned for a landing 12 minutes after launch, as a precautionary measure. During those 12 minutes, the airplane reached an altitude of 6,600 feet and 170 knots, and the company declared the flight a success. "Systems were fully operational. ... Flight controls and characteristics performed as expected," said Pres Henne, Gulfstream's senior vice president for Programs, Engineering and Test. "We consider this flight a success and look forward to pursuing our full flight-test plan." The airplane remains on schedule for type certification by 2011, followed by entry-into-service in 2012, the company said.
The G650 is the largest Gulfstream ever built, with a top cruise speed of .925 Mach, a maximum operating altitude of 51,000 feet and a range (at .85 Mach) of 7,000 nm. It will carry up to 18 passengers and includes a separate compartment for a second crew on those long flights. Click here for the full text of the news release.