Gulfstream Brings G500 Test Airplane to NBAA


The first test aircraft for Gulfstream's clean-sheet G500 landed at the Henderson Executive Airport, just southeast of Las Vegas, a few days ago in preparation for the National Business Aircraft Association's Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition, which opened its doors today.

Despite fighting a 75-knot headwind, the G500 completed the 1,630 nm flight from the company's headquarters in Savannah, Georgia to Las Vegas in 4 hours and 36 minutes, averaging Mach 0.85 at 45,000 feet. The crew consisted of two flight test pilots and two flight test engineers.

Since its first flight in May, the G500 has accumulated more than 160 flight test hours in 44 flights. Though the targeted max speed for the airplane is Mach 0.90, the G500 test bed has already flown up to Mach 0.995. At Mach 0.90, Gulfstream says the airplane will be able to reach 3,800 nm. Slowing down to Mach 0.85, the range can be extended to 5,000 nm.

In addition to the actual flight testing, about 41,000 hours of combined testing in several ground labs have been completed to date. Test pilots, FAA pilots and customers have also had a chance to try out the airplane in a full motion simulator developed by FlightSafety. This is the first time Gulfstream has incorporated a full motion sim in the flight test stage.

The cockpit features Gulfstream's active control sidesticks, which control the airplane through a fly-by-wire system based on that installed in the G650. The G500 and G650 also share the same large cabin windows.

The Symmetry flight deck, powered by Honeywell's Primus Epic system, incorporates 10 touch screen interfaces, including some on the overhead panels. The interfaces have triple redundancy to allow for dispatch with two functioning units in case one fails.

You can see the G500 at Gulfstream's display at Henderson Airport alongside the G650ER, G550, G450, G280 and G150. While not open to the public, we were invited to explore the inside of the airplane, which is loaded with test equipment and several flight test engineer stations. This photo gallery includes images from that visit.

Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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