When first announced in 2008 the Gulfstream G650 business jet promised to be the world's fastest civil aircraft and in a test flight earlier this month, it delivered. Flown by Gulfstream’s Chief Test Pilot John O’Meara and Senior Experimental Test Pilot Tom Horne, the G650 hit its top speed of Mach 0.925 while at 42,500 feet in the skies above Savannah, Georgia, on Sunday, May 2.
“The G650 excelled at its top speed of Mach 0.925,” O’Meara said. ”Even at near the speed of sound, the aircraft provides stable and precise handling characteristics. It’s very responsive to pilot input with fantastic maneuver capabilities. Turns can be initiated and completed without any onset of buffet. The engine performance is extremely smooth. At the conditions flown today, the entire operation was flawless.”
Propelled by the new Rolls-Royce BR725 engine, the G650 will boast the longest range as well as the fastest speed in its class - 7,000 nautical miles (12,964 km) at Mach 0.85.
The new aircraft also leads the Gulfstream fleet in terms of interior comfort and technology. Its 102 inch wide cabin is billed as the largest in a business-jet cabin and the seats, living area and window size are also larger than its predecessors. The advanced cockpit features four 14-inch, adaptive, liquid-crystal displays; three computer tablets and a fully automatic, three-dimensional scanning weather radar.
The maiden flight of the G650 took place in November 2009 and two test aircraft have now completed around 140 flight-test hours.
In all, five G650 aircraft will complete approximately 1,800 hours in the planned flight-test program before entering service in 2012.
See the Gulfstream Aerospace site for video footage.