Gulfstream G500 Makes First Flight

Gulfstream's remarkable new large cabin jet starts flight-test program.

Gulfstream on Tuesday made a surprise announcement at the European business aviation gathering EBACE, sharing the news that its latest big bizjet, the G500, made its first flight on Monday. As we reported in our December issue, the G500 and G600 are closely related new jets that make use of the most advanced technology in Gulfstream’s fleet (arguably in the world).

Taking off out of Savannah-Hilton Head (KSAV), the twinjet made a typical first flight, with pilots testing the flight control response in simulated approach to landing configuration. The pilots also evaluated the Symmetry flight deck, the most advanced and fully integrated avionics suite in a Gulfstream (and also arguably in the world). The airplane initially climbed to just over 10,000 feet, topped out at 15,000 feet and achieved a top speed of just under 200 knots, considerably slower than its targeted high- speed cruise figure of Mach 0.90, the same as the company’s flagship G650 and G650ER.

Gulfstream has two G500s in the flight-test program, with three more on the way. The program is unlike any in business aviation history, with the company having already conducted more than 34,000 hours of testing on actual aircraft structures and systems in a series of high-tech labs at its Savannah campus. Flying visited these labs late last year and got the chance to “fly” the G500, a fly-by-wire airplane like the G650 but with more advanced feedback and pilot pairing capabilities — designed to replicate a conventionally controlled aircraft feel but with numerous safety and convenience of flight features.

Gulfstream president Larry Flynn told Flying that he’s confident that all the lab testing will pay dividends when it comes to FAA certification flight testing. He also stressed the value of “rehearsing” flight tests in the lab, commenting that the “first test flights have been flown over and over again.”

With a Mach 0.85 range of 5,000 nm and a high speed range of 3,800 nm, the G500 fits a niche between existing Gulfstreams while offering numerous upgrades, from fly-by-wire flight control to the new flight deck to a very low cabin altitude to state-of-the-art cabin connectivity.

Gulfstream anticipates certification for the G500 in 2017 with the first customers getting their airplanes in 2018. The G600 is slated to follow those milestones by around a year respectively.

You can also watch the unveiling of the G500 last year here.

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