Posted on June 1st, 2011
Gulfstream Aerospace resumed flying the G650 on Saturday, nearly two months after suspending the flight-test program following an April 2 fatal accident involving G650 S/N 6002. Senior experimental test pilots Jake Howard and Tom Horne flew S/N 6001 on a one hour, 39 minute flight that originated and terminated at Savannah (Ga.) International Airport. “We have conducted all the necessary reviews to assure ourselves that we can safely resume the flight-test program at this point,” said Gulfstream senior vice president of programs, engineering and test Pres Henne. “We have worked closely with the FAA in this process and received the agency’s concurrence to resume flight testing.” A spokeswoman told AIN that no other G650 flights have been made since Saturday, but the three other test G650s–S/Ns 6003, 6004 and 6005–are in Savannah and “their return to flight testing is imminent.” She added, “We did not make any modifications [to the G650] as a result of the accident. During the seven-week flying hiatus, all four aircraft underwent routine hardware and software updates that would have normally happened in the course of the flight-test program.” However, Gulfstream has put in place an interim flight restriction that temporarily increases V speeds and limits maximum angle of attack on takeoff. To date, the G650 fleet has logged 1,560 of the estimated 2,200 flying hours required for certification. The company still anticipates certification later this year, with entry into service next year.