Gulfstream has expanded its airborne product support (APS) program, adding a backup G100, 3 pilots and 2 technicians. The program delivers flight-essential parts and/or technicians to customers with AOG issues in North America and the Caribbean. The company says its APS program remains the only one in the industry with dedicated aircraft available 24/7. The program now includes 2 aircraft, 4 flightcrews, 9 technicians, and a full-time manager. Since Gulfstream introduced its APS program in May 2002, it has completed nearly 2650 missions, including 350 outside the continental US.

Airbus is offering a new cabin concept designed to appeal to Asian tastes in color and layout. Named Phoenix, it is being offered to Airbus Corporate Jet customers. The main cabin includes a large circular table with seating for 6, facilitating work-related discussions and dining while allowing others to pass by without interference. This table may be folded into a rectangular shape when needed. The Phoenix concept can also be adapted to offer an area for relaxation and entertainment such as karaoke. Airbus notes that it can offer these features because Airbus Corporate Jets have "the widest and tallest cabin of any business jet, existing or planned." Color and fabric choices include a decor proposed for the Chinese market featuring burgundy red. Airbus reports an increasing presence in the Asia-Pacific region, currently among the world's fastest-growing corporate jet markets. Most of the company's 25-plus sales in the region have been in China. Customers are encouraged to use any of 8 Airbus-audited cabin out­fitters—a worldwide network that has recently been expanded to include TAECO of Xiamen, China.


Embraer has added a new tweak to the Prodigy flightdeck installed on its Phenom 100 and 300 jets. With the datalink option, pilots can now send text messages (SMS) through the avionics systems and receive SMS and e-mail from mobile phones and e-mail servers. Embraer VP Programs, Executive Jets Maurício Almeida sees the new option as an aid to flight planning.

The European Business Aviation Assn (EBAA) is irked with the UK government. London has decided to levy a passenger tax on users of private aircraft. EBAA charges that the new tax could lead "aviation interests" and some companies to move offshore. In Europe, 80% of business aircraft operators have fewer than 5 aircraft, while 40% have only one. The association believes the new tax could have a heavy impact on these small fleet operators. Business aviation in Europe already pays a 20% value added tax (VAT) and must buy pollution credits under the European emissions trading program. The new passenger levy will add an estimated $1.64 billion to their yearly tax bill.


Tragedy strikes Gulfstream G650 tests

In Apr 2, one of 5 G650 flight test aircraft crashed on takeoff from ROW (Roswell NM), killing all on board. Lost in the accident were Experimental Test Pilots Kent Cren­shaw and Vivan Ragusa and Technical Specialists David Mc­Collum and Reece Ollenburg.

At 0930 local time, N652GD (s/n 6002) had spent about 2.5 hrs in takeoff performance and brake testing. Then it was cleared for takeoff on Runway 21. Conditions were VFR with winds variously reported as being under 10 kts or 15 kts "directly from the left side of the aircraft."

According to NTSB's preliminary report, the aircraft was performing a takeoff with a simulated engine failure. The goal was to determine takeoff distance requirements at minimum flap settings.

"Wingtip scrape marks beginning on the runway approximately 5300 ft from the end of the runway lead toward the final resting spot about 3800 ft from the first marks on the runway," the report continues.

"Witnesses close to the scene saw the airplane sliding on the ground with sparks and smoke coming from the bottom of the wing, and described the airplane being fully involved in fire while still moving across the ground."

The airplane struck several obstructions and came to rest upright about 200 ft from the base of the airport control tower. Rescue and fire fighting units responded quickly and fought the fire for 15 min.

Following the accident, the company suspended flights of its 4 remaining G650 test aircraft until further notice. Senior VP Programs, Engineering and Test Pres Henne commented a few days later, "We are participating fully in the aircraft investigation and will only resume flying the G650 when we and [FAA] are satisfied it is safe to do so."
Just a week before the accident, the SAV-based manufacturer had opened a support center to help diagnose inflight problems.

Manned by more than 40 technical/system specialists, the Gulfstream call center operates 3 flightdeck simulators that can "replicate or closely recreate" what the pilot sees and experiences. The crash took the glow from the good news, also a week earlier, that the supermidsize G250 had performed flawlessly during unprotected test flights into heavy icing, completing the test points for certification.



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