March 21, 2014

Gulfstream test G650 to its limits

Manufacturer Gulfstream has pushed its much-heralded G650 long range jet to its limits this month, with two city pair record-breaking flights, designed to demonstrate its range and speed.

Firstly on March 1, the G650 flew from LA to Melbourne. This is the first known flight of any long range jet between the USA and Australia. The 12,778 km/6899 nm (nautical miles) trip took 14 hours and 49 minutes.

Then on March 10, Gulfstream set a new city pair speed record for New York to Mumbai. The G650 took off from Westchester County Airport in White Plains, New York, carrying two passengers and four crew members. 13 hours and 49 minutes later, the aircraft landed at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai. This gave it an average cruise speed of Mach 0.85 for the 12,508 km/6,754 nm flight.

The official maximum quoted flight range for the G650 is 12,964 km or 7,000 nm, and its maximum long range cruising speed Mach 0.85 – so these flights tested the aircraft to the max.

This isn’t the first time the G650 has broken a speed record – it already has 41 other city pair records under its belt. But it’s interesting to see Gulfstream putting on a public show of both the speed and the range of their much-in-demand jet within a short timeframe.

Some think that these public displays are Gulfstream’s response to increased competition in the Ultra Long Range Jet market, particularly from rival manufacturer Bombardier’s Global family of aircraft. Bombardier claim that their new Global 8000, with first deliveries due in 2016, will be the world’s longest range business jet, offering a maximum range of 7,900 nm. It’s possible that Gulfstream are looking at expanding the G650’s range in response.

But certainly for now, the G650 is still the aircraft everyone’s talking about. You only need to take a look at its order book. This ultimate status symbol is in such huge demand that those on the waiting list are paying a premium of several million dollars to move up the queue. Something not seen with any other private jet aircraft since before the recession.

For more on the G650 see previous post Flip my jet: Demand outstrips supply for the G650.

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