A second Gulfstream G650 has completed its first flight. Test article T2 took off from SAV on Feb 25, with Senior Experimental Test Pilots Gary Freeman and Scott Buethe at the controls. The aircraft flew for 2 hr 33 min, reaching an altitude of 37,000 ft and Mach 0.80 before landing back at SAV. Both G650 flight test aircraft, T2 and T1, were airborne simultaneously. Gulfstream Senior VP for Programs, Engineering and Test Pres Henne said the aircraft performed well during initial tests of integrated flight control system and handling. Gulfstream plans to conduct 6 additional flights to assess basic system functionality before proceeding to more intensive testing. The G650 flight test and certification plan involves 5 aircraft and an estimated 1800 hrs of testing. T1 is focused on performance and flight controls, T2 on systems and T3 on avionics. The 2 production aircraft in the test program, P1 and P2, will be used to evaluate interior systems and RVSM flight, respectively. Gulfstream expects to earn G650 certification from FAA and EASA in 2011. The G650 first flew in late 2009 and is targeted for entry into service in 2012. Powered by Rolls-Royce BR725 engines, it has a 7000-nm range at Mach 0.85 and a max operating speed of Mach 0.925.

Dassault Falcon has revamped its worldwide service center network of 5 company-owned service centers and 26 authorized service centers to offer a more targeted and efficient approach to maintenance for Falcon operators. The changes were made, in part, due to feedback from the company’s Operator Advisory Board, according to Jacques Chauvet, senior VP of worldwide customer service for Dassault Falcon. The new structure will be divided into heavy, major and line maintenance service centers. Heavy centers will provide comprehensive customer support for all Falcon models. Major service centers will provide comprehensive support for Falcons of a particular model and hold local regulatory approvals as well as those from FAA and EASA. Services will include all maintenance including AOG service and inspections through C check. Five centers located in Finland, Germany, Singapore, South Africa and the US fall into this category. Line service centers will provide support for specific Falcon models. Thirteen centers worldwide fall into this category.

Daher-Socata has delivered the 1st Garmin G1000-equipped TBM850. Australian customer Capstone Financial Services took delivery of the aircraft on Mar 1 at MEB (Essendon, Melbourne VIC, Australia.) (L–R) Owners Katrina and Warwick Hawksworth with their new aircraft.

Nextant Aerospace recently completed the 1st flight of a fully equipped Phase 1 400NEXT. The Nextant 400­NEXT replaces the existing Pratt & Whitney JT15D engines on the Beechcraft 400A/Hawker 400XP with Williams Intl FJ44-3AP engines together with Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics, increasing range from 1333 nm to over 2000 nm with 4 pax and NBAA IFR reserves. Nextant earned an STC for the Pro Line 21 flightdeck upgrade last year and is now offering the 400NEXT aircraft in a 2-phase program. The Phase 1 aircraft is being built according to the 400NEXT configuration, which in­cludes the Pro Line 21 cockpit but retains the Pratt & Whitney JT15D-5 engines. Phase 2 will be the installation of the Williams FJ44-3AP engines once that certification is complete. The flight included testing of the Rockwell Collins Venue cabin management system, Aircell Axxess cabin communications system and ATG4000 high-speed Internet. For its flight the Phase 1 400NEXT aircraft, N401NX, was outfitted with Aircell Axxess and ATG4000, iShades—solid-state window shades that allow passengers to adjust the amount of natural light electronically, and Rockwell Collins Venue. This equipment will be optional on the complete 400NEXT aircraft.

Gulfstream G250 number 2 made its first flight on Mar 24. Flown by IAI Chief Test Pilot Ronen Shapira, aircraft s/n 2002 departed from TLV (Ben Gurion, Tel Aviv, Israel) and flew for 1 hr 57 min, reaching an altitude of 20,000 ft and a speed of 195 kts. Gulfstream designed and built the supermidsize G250 in collaboration with IAI. The first test aircraft, s/n 2001, has accumulated more than 70 flight hours since its first flight in Dec 2009 and has reached its Mach 0.85 maximum certified speed and 45,000 ft max altitude. Flight testing and certification for the G250 will involve 3 aircraft and an estimated 1300 hrs of testing. Each aircraft will be used for a specific series of tests, with s/n 2001 focused on inflight performance and handling, s/n 2002 on avionics and s/n 2003 on systems functionality and reliability. Gulfstream is currently evaluating the airframe and PlaneView 250 avionics package. Testing of the fatigue aircraft will start later this year. Powered by twin Honeywell HTF­7250G engines, the G250 has a range of 3400 nm at Mach 0.80, with an initial cruise altitude of FL 410. Certification is slated for 2011.

Eclipse’s new owners have introduced a factory refurbishment program for the Eclipse 500 VLJ. Eclipse Aerospace Pres Mason Holland says that the “Total Eclipse” program “marks the completion of the final design of the original EA500.” Eclipse Aviation ceased production in Feb 2009. Hol­land and Michael Press purchased the company’s assets and reopened it as Eclipse Aerospace in Sep 2009. The fully configured Total Eclipse EA500 includes flight into known icing and a GPS-coupled autopilot. Color radar, electronic moving maps and Jeppesen eCharts are all presented directly on the MFD. Certified to FL 410, the EA500 is designed for a 20,000-cycle airframe life. Price for a Total Eclipse aircraft is $2.15 million, including factory warranty. As part of the program, Eclipse Aerospace is offering trade-in credits for used EA500s ranging from $1.0–1.7 million. It is also offering a guaranteed buy-back provision and will repurchase the aircraft for a guaranteed amount that can be applied as a credit toward a first-year production slot when EA500 manufacturing resumes.

Al Higdon receives Wichita Advertising Federation award

Former advertising and aviation public relations executive Al Higdon was honored in February by the Wichita Advertising Federation with its Silver Medal Award, commemorating a lifetime of success as an advertising leader. Higdon held public relations positions with Beech Aircraft and Learjet for 12 years, before cofounding the Sullivan Higdon & Sink (SHS) ad agency in 1971. He retired from SHS as chairman & CEO in 1996 and spent the next 10 years teaching graduate level courses in advertising and public relations at Wichita State University. In 2008 Higdon was a founding member of the Wichita Aero Club.

Three northeast US bizjet user groups—Morristown Aviation Association (MAA), Teterboro Users Group (TUG) and Westchester Aviation Association (WAA)—are planning an international operations symposium to be held on Apr 13 at MMU—the 3rd such meeting to be held. A 1st meeting was held in May 2009 on emergency procedures. The 2nd meeting took place at TEB last November and covered winter ops. With the help of NBAA all 3 user groups are now working together to offer these events to the business aviation community. Local flight department personnel provide information on pertinent topics for operators who may be unable to attend the larger conferences on these subjects. The meetings are designed to help disseminate important information and create awareness around certain subjects that might otherwise be overlooked.


Eclipse Aerospace and SimCom have partnered to offer training for Eclipse operators. Eclipse will relocate 2 EA500 Level D simulators to SimCom’s training center in Orlando FL. The type-specific devices will be used by SimCom to provide initial and recurrent pilot training, and are slated to be available in 3Q2010. Both simulators currently replicate the EA500 and include the Avio integrated avionics system. Planned upgrades to the sims include the Avio NG 1.5 avionics suite along with autopilot enhancement, GPS WAAS capability and flight-into-known-icing modifications. Eclipse will continue to provide factory-authorized initial, recurrent and differences inflight training until the simulators are installed and operational in Orlando, following which SimCom will be the exclusive source for factory-authorized training for Eclipse in North, Central and South America. SimCom has training facilities in Orlando and Glendale and Scottsdale AZ.


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