Gulfstream Aerospace test pilots and engineers made business-aviation history in December, flying the Gulfstream G650 test aircraft for the first time using only an electrically powered, fly-by-wire backup flight-control actuation system.
The 21 December test flight involved Gulfstream’s aircraft serial number 6001 and lasted three hours and 33 minutes. Test pilots Jake Howard and Gary Freeman, along with flight-test engineers Bill Osborne and Nathaniel Rutland evaluated the aircraft’s fly-by-wire system in electric backup actuation mode for 2 hours and 20 minutes of the flight, performing five landings with the backup system engaged.
“The system performed flawlessly,” says Pres Henne, Gulfstream’s senior vice-president for programmes, engineering and test. “There was no difference in handling qualities between the electrically and hydraulically powered modes.”
“It flew so well that unless pilots were told they were in backup actuation mode I don’t think they would notice,” Freeman adds.
Typically, fly-by-wire aircraft use a third hydraulic system to provide redundancy in the event of a dual hydraulic system failure. However, Gulfstream’s fly-by-wire architecture uses Parker Hannifin-made electric backup hydraulic actuators (EBHA) – electrically controlled actuators that are primarily hydraulically powered, but offer electric power as a backup. A self-contained hydraulic reservoir and motor pump allow full operation should hydraulic loss occur.
The G650 has an EBHA at every primary control surface – the elevators, rudder and ailerons – as well as the outboard spoilers. These provide enhanced safety and aircraft availability because of the two different power sources. The self-contained actuators also offer an advantage under certain failure scenarios, such as a rotor burst, that could damage hydraulic systems.
Dubai-based charter and aircraft management company Gama Aviation FZC has become the first operator to register a Bombardier Challenger 850 business jet in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) issued its certificate of airworthiness (CofA) for the aircraft type on 16 December.
“We are very excited by the addition of this Challenger 850 jet to our growing fleet,” said Dave Edwards, Gama’s managing director. “The first CofA for this type of business jet in the UAE demonstrates the growing interest in business aviation in this region and a crowning achievement for our newly launched Middle Eastern division.”
Gama Group is an international business-aviation services organisation. Gama Aviation FZC has an operating base at Sharjah International Airport with offices in the Dubai Airport Freezone. Established in the United Kingdom in 1983 by Marwan Abdel Khalek and Stephen Wright, the Gama Group has its headquarters at Farnborough in the UK, with bases across Europe, the Americas and the Middle East. The company operates more than 75 business aircraft, including two Bombardier Learjet 45s, two Learjet 60s, two Challenger 604s and two Challenger 605s.
Gama Group’s companies and affiliates hold European, US and UAE charter certificates, as well as maintenance, design and manufacture approval. Services offered include charter, management, fixed-base operations (FBO), maintenance, valet services and aviation software services.
Gama Aviation FZC obtained its UAE GCAA Air Operator’s Certificate in February 2010 and now operates five business jets in the region. It is also constructing a new hangar and FBO at Sharjah International Airport.
“The certification of Gama Group’s Challenger 850 aircraft is an example of the increasing diversity of the market for business aircraft in the Middle East,” says Bob Horner, Bombardier Business Aircraft’s senior vice-president of sales. “The Challenger 850 jet has established a unique niche, offering unparalleled flexibility in customized configurations for operators worldwide. We are confident that this formidable aircraft will enjoy even more success in this region.”
CESSNA AIRCRAFT has delivered three Citation Sovereign business jets to the Flight Inspection Centre of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). The CAAC arm is responsible for inspecting navigation, radar, communication and navigational aid systems, as well as flight procedures at civil airports and in airways in the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macau. The Cessna jets will be used for calibration of navigational aid systems serving Chinese airports. The aircraft have been certified to operate from airports at altitudes of up to 15,000ft and with required navigation performance accuracy of RNP .3. The CAAC Flight Inspection Centre is a long-established Cessna customer, having previously purchased 11 Citations, including Citation VI, Citation X and Citation XLS aircraft. Cessna also announced an additional sales success in China, with the delivery of a CJ3 business jet to an unidentified customer in Hong Kong.
PIPER AIRCRAFT has terminated a year-old licensing agreement with Moravia-based light sport aircraft manufacturer Czech Sport Aircraft (CSA). Piper Chief Executive Geoffrey Berger says the company determined that it is in its “best long-term interests to discontinue the business relationship”. The executive says the two companies have divergent approaches and views on the market. Piper has been selling the two-seat PiperSport aircraft – a variant of CSA’s SportCruiser since April 2010. The company sold 54 of the aircraft, priced at US$120,000 to US$140,000.