As it works with the NTSB to determine the cause of the crash of a Gulfstream G650 flight test airplane, the company has decided to temporarily suspend flight activities for the remaining four flight test articles. In a press release issued on Wednesday, Pres Henne, senior vice president for programs, engineering and test for Gulfstream, said "We are participating fully in the aircraft investigation and will only resume flying the G650 when we and the Federal Aviation Administration are satisfied it is safe to do so."
The FAA also issued its preliminary report detailing what it knows about the crash. The G650, it said, was performing a take off with a simulated engine failure to determine take-off distance requirements at minimum flap setting. After it hit a wingtip on the runway and its gear collapsed, the airplane, according to the investigator, became fully involved in flames as it slid down the runway. It came to rest just 200 feet from the control tower, the report said.
The crash of the prototype claimed the lives of four longtime Gulfstream employees and sent shockwaves not only through Savannah but throughout the broader industry as well. Gulfstream's parent company, General Dynamics, was quick to issue a statement, as well.
Jay L. Johnson, CEO of General Dynamics, addressed those questions in a brief statement. "Our sorrow from the loss of these four great men is very deep," said Johnson. He went on to say that that, as Gulfstream works with the NTSB on the investigation, the "cause of this terrible tragedy will be determined." He suggested that flight testing would resume before long but stopped short of giving any kind of time frame. Johnson concluded the remarks with a vote of confidence in the airplane, the program and the company, saying that "the G650 will take its place atop the long line of safe, reliable, high-performance business jets on which Gulfstream has built its superb reputation."