Construction of the first Gulfstream G600 flight test aircraft has reached a significant milestone with the joining of the wing to the fuselage.
Gulfstream released a photo on Tuesday (US time) showing the wing joining the fuselage on the first G600 that will be used for the type’s flight test program.
The company has already completed the G600 “iron bird”, which does not fly but is used to test flight control and mechanical systems such as the landing gear, brakes and hydraulics. Testing with the G600 “iron bird” began in February.
The Gulfstream G500 and G600, both wide-cabin aircraft that can seat up to 19 people and cruise at speeds of Mach 0.9, were launched in October 2014.
The G500 flight test program began in May 2015 and the four aircraft currently in the flight test program have accumulated more than 800 hours of flying time. A fifth test aircraft was being fitted out with a full cabin interior.
The type was forecast to receive type certification in 2017 and first deliveries due to commence in 2018. The G500 can fly 5,000nm/9,260km at Mach 0.85 or 3,800nm/7,038km at Mach 0.90.
Gulfstream said the G500 has received the first Type Inspection Authorisation (TIA) from US Federal Aviation Administration, for inlet compatibility.
“Achieving these milestones speaks to the maturity of both programs and demonstrates our commitment to ensuring these aircraft deliver the performance, safety and reliability we promised,” Gulfstream president Mark Burns said in a statement.
“The wing-to-fuselage join is a significant step in manufacturing the first G600 and reflects our continued steady progress toward first flight.
“The official launch of certification testing on the G500 highlights the efforts being made to achieve certification in 2017.”
The G600, projected to enter service in 2019, is capable of traveling 6,200nm/11,482km at Mach 0.85 or 4,800nm/8,890km at Mach 0.90. Although flight testing was forecast to start in 2017, Gulfstream executives indicated at the ABACE Show in Shanghai it could be brought forward to the end of 2016, according to media reports.