Gulfstream Aims To Snag "Fastest Civil Airplane" From Cessna

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The Gulfstream G650 flew at its proposed Mmo (maximum operating limit speed) of Mach 0.925 (about 704 mph) for the first time on Sunday, the company announced this week at EBACE (the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition). Gulfstream aims to steal the "fastest civil airplane" ranking away from Cessna, which has claimed it for some time with the Citation X, which tops out at Mach 0.92. The G650 reached top speed at FL 425, and it was no problem, according to test pilot John O'Meara. "Even at near the speed of sound, the aircraft provides stable and precise handling characteristics," he said. "It's very responsive to pilot input with fantastic maneuver capabilities. Turns can be initiated and completed without any onset of buffet. The engine performance is extremely smooth. At the conditions flown today, the entire operation was flawless." The G650 launched from Savannah, Ga.

Gulfstream announced the clean-sheet G650 program in March 2008, with a target of making it the fastest transport-category aircraft in the sky. First flight was in November, and the second flight-test aircraft launched in February. As of mid-April, the two aircraft had completed nearly 50 flights and about 140 flight-test hours, the company said. Powered by Rolls-Royce BR725 engines, the business jet will have a range of 7,000 nautical miles at Mach 0.85. First deliveries are expected in 2012.