Gulfstream's New G650 Really Goes the Distance
The Gulfstream G650, which isn't here at MEBA because of the company's aggressive flight-test schedule, will be the world's fastest and longest range business jet when deliveries of completed customer aircraft enter service in 2012 (unfinished "green" deliveries will actually begin later next year). Its wide cabin will also boast the latest in comfort and convenience.The $64.5 million twinjet, which first flew last year and is slated for U.S. FAA certification next year, is both a significant departure and a natural progression from the manufacturer's previous and current line of large jets-airplanes whose lineage and fuselage diameter can be traced back to the Gulfstream II of the 1960s. Power on the G650 comes from two 16,100-pound-thrust Rolls-Royce BR725 engines, which are more efficient than their BR710 predecessor. The new engines produce almost 5 percent more takeoff thrust while reducing nitrogen oxide emissions by 5 percent and smoke by 10 percent. They are also 33-percent quieter than the BR710s, reducing noise levels to 17 decibels below Stage 4 standards.The new engines, increased use of metal bonding and composite materials, combined with more efficient wing design, translate into better aerodynamics, weight savings and greater efficiencies in manufacture and operation. For example, the G650's huge 28- by 20.5-inch windows are 16 percent bigger than the G550's but use 78 percent fewer parts, thereby cutting assembly time in half. The oval windows are also spaced farther apart than the G550's and are slightly higher on the fuselage to improve viewing angle.According to Gulfstream, the G650 can fly the 6,370 nm from Dubai to Chicago some 90 minutes faster than any other civilian jet. The aircraft can also land in adverse weather thanks to integrated head-up and synthetic-vision systems that include the Gulfstream enhanced-vision system (EVS), the synthetic-vision primary flight display system and head-up display. The EVS uses a forward-looking infrared camera that captures actual ground images and projects them on the pilot's head-up display, while the synthetic-vision system employs 3-D color terrain images from an onboard database.Gulfstream didn't want to make the jet so large that it couldn't land in places that ban aircraft weighing more than 100,000 pounds, such as Aspen, Colorado; Sun Valley, Idaho; and the New York City-area Teterboro. Nor did it want to have to rely on ground-based systems such as power carts. The quieter engines not only enable the G650 to conform to all existing and anticipated airport noise restrictions, they also make for a quieter cabin. The fuselage's oval shape is more aerodynamically efficient than the G550's round-tube design and offers more cabin space. The unfinished cabin measures 102 inches wide and 77 inches high (75 inches finished). The G650's floor is 80 inches wide (15 inches wider than the G550's) and the interior sidewall-to-sidewall width (at shoulders, seated) is 98 inches. This means more seat recline, legroom and stateroom options as well as larger galleys, lavatories, baggage and crew-rest areas. The wider floor allows for larger seats, wider aisles and the ability to seat three across in conference and dining groupings.Its main entry door is massive-almost 75 inches tall, versus 59.25 inches on the G550. The baggage area provides 195 cubic feet of space and is accessible at all altitudes through the aft lavatory. The G650 has a 100-percent fresh-air system and provides a lower cabin altitude than other large business jets-4,850 feet when flying at 51,000 feet and 2,800 feet when flying at 41,000 feet. The environmental-control system features quieter air distribution than the G550 and independently vented lavatories.The G650's cabin can be configured for 11 to 18 passenger seats in one of 12 floor plans, including six with forward galleys and six with aft galleys, with or without crew-rest areas. The mid-cabin credenza opposite the conference area can be replaced with two single seats and a sidewall table. This effectively creates a six-seat conference/dining area. The optional aft stateroom area, forward of the aft lavatory, is available with forward galley plans. It features a single seat, table, storage, a 27-inch LED monitor and a berthing divan. The wide floor means that when the divan is deployed there is still ample aisle clearance to allow access to the aft lavatory and the baggage compartment.Gulfstream showed a finished Gulfstream G650 cabin for the first time at the NBAA Convention in October in Atlanta. The full interior is in G650 flight-test aircraft S/N 6004, which, besides being used for certification trials, will be used to shake out the cabin itself. Standard cabin equipment includes two electrically articulated seats with heated back and base cushion. A divan in S/N 6004 is more couch-like and has one-touch, electrically actuated berthing.Also new in the G650 is the company's own Gulfstream Cabin Management System, which provides digital control of cabin systems through touch-screens, capacitive touch switches and passenger control units. Using an iPod Touch synched to a particular aircraft seat, passengers will be able to control the lighting, temperature, speakers, monitors, entertainment equipment, window shades, CabinView system and flight attendant call. The company plans to deliver up to 12 "green" Gulfstream G650s in the second half of next year, following U.S. certification in midyear. To date, the twinjet has accumulated nearly 900 flight-test hours-about half of what Gulfstream expects to log for the entire certification program-and a fifth aircraft is scheduled to join the program later this month. Jay Johnson, chairman and CEO of Gulfstream parent company General Dynamics, hinted last week that at least one of the aircraft might have achieved supersonic flight during testing.Gulfstream will build the G650 at a new 308,000-sq-ft production plant in Savannah, Georgia, using ultra-lean manufacturing techniques. The company has about 200 orders for the airplane.