It was a big day in Savannah for Gulfstream when the company announced on Friday that it had earned provisional type certification for its ultra-long-range, ultra-large-cabin Gulfstream G650. The provisional TC will allow Gulfstream to begin completing interiors for customer airplanes while it finishes up the details of the full certification.
Provisional certification is not an unusual route to full certification, though the practice drew a lot of negative comment when the FAA granted Eclipse provisional type certification for the Eclipse 500 very light jet in what critics said looked like a political decision designed to let Eclipse meet guarantees for an airplane they charged was not close to being finished. A number of established airplane makers have earned provisional certification for their jets; Gulfstream has done it twice before, with the GV and the G550. It’s widely considered standard operating practiced.
The G650 suffered a loss earlier this year when a test article crashed in Roswell, NM, killing the four Gulfstream employees on board during takeoff testing. The tragedy put the timetable of certification in doubt, but Gulfstream has made up the lost ground.
Indeed, the company’s new flagship G650 set a slew of remarkable records during flight testing, including a 7,000-nm nonstop flight at Mach .85 and a 5,000-nm flight at Mach .90, both of which will be business as usual for the G650. It has also established a top speed of Mach .925, making it by a slight but signifcant margin the fastest civilian airplane, upping the former high-speed mark of the Cessna Citation X.
Gulfstream plans to begin customer deliveries following full certification in the second quarter of 2012, which was the original schedule.