Gulfstream Claims "Fastest Civil Aircraft" Title For G650

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Gulfstream's new G650 recently reached Mach 0.995 on a test flight, which the company says establishes the business jet as the world's fastest civil aircraft. That title that has long been held by Cessna's Citation X, which flies at Mach 0.92. Gulfstream said the G650 achieved the maximum speed during flutter testing, when the test crew took Serial Number 6001 into a dive, pitching the nose 16 to 18 degrees below the horizon. During the dive, flutter exciters introduced a range of vibration frequencies to the wing, tail and flight control surfaces to ensure the aircraft naturally dampened out the oscillations without input from the pilots. "The airplane is very predictable," said test pilot Tom Horne. "It's very easy to control and to get precise control at those speeds."

Gulfstream has been working on the G650 flight-test program since November 2009. Four jets are flying, with one more to join the test fleet before production begins. The test aircraft have completed more than 170 flights and 575 flight-test hours. The ultra-large-cabin G650 is powered by Rolls-Royce BR725 engines, and the company says it will fly 7,000 nm at Mach 0.85. Deliveries are scheduled to start in 2012. The Citation X has been flying since 1996 and the fleet has accumulated more than one million hours.

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