The NTSB’s official accident report on last year’s G650 test flight crash – released Wednesday – blames the fatal accident on Gulfstream’s aggressive test flight schedule and failure to rectify pre-existing flaws in the ultra-long-range business jet’s takeoff speed.
According to investigators, the accident that killed four seasoned Gulfstream employees – which occurred after the jet’s wing struck the tarmac during a simulated engine-out takeoff – was technically the result of a stall and uncommanded roll during a simulated engine-out takeoff.
As for deeper influential factors, however, the report points to a deadline-oriented company culture that, investigators say, placed performance before safety.
According to the NTSB, previous problems related to Gulfstream’s erroneously low takeoff speed – including uncommanded roll events – occurred prior to the deadly crash in Roswell, New Mexico, but were not appropriately investigated by the company. NTSB officials also said Gulfstream team members involved in the flight testing program lacked clear roles and responsibilities, and that the company failed to enact the oversight necessary to ensure effective risk control.
The official accident report comes months after the NTSB voiced criticism of Gulfstream’s handling of the investigation in a letter that cited unexplained missing evidence, combative Gulfstream lawyers and noncompliance with NTSB regulations.
Gulfstream President Larry Flynn responded to the charges in a letter that maintained the company had complied with all NTSB information requests in an appropriate and prompt manner and had been more than forthcoming with the agency.
The high-profile crash initially threatened to derail the G650 program, but Gulfstream later made up for lost time, receiving full certification last month.