Friday, September 07, 2012

Gulfstream G650 receives FAA certification: First ultra-long-range aircraft to be delivered soon to customer

Died in a flight test accident at Roswell, NM April 2nd 2011.

Kent Rex Crenshaw 1947-2011

Reece Emil Ollenburg 1962-2011

David Ellis McCollum 1963-2011

Vivan Leroy Rangusa 1959-2011

EDITORIAL: Crash investigation: Nothing to hide 
Posted: June 18, 2012 - 7:17pm | Updated: June 19, 2012 - 12:11am 

THE WAR of words between federal investigators and Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. over last year’s fatal crash of a test aircraft in New Mexico is troubling on several levels.

The National Transportation Safety Board and Gulfstream must consider themselves teammates, not adversaries. There’s nothing to hide — and no reason to hide anything either.

Four crew members died when a G650 aircraft crashed April 2, 2011. Both the government and Gulfstream owe it to the families and to the public to work together in the ongoing investigation of this accident, which saddened many in the this community where these aircraft are built.

Anything less is unacceptable. And, quite frankly, senseless.

On May 21, Gulfstream went on record and admitted the buck for this tragedy stops on the company’s desk. In a submission placed last week on the NTSB’s public docket, the company indicated that it “accepts full responsibility for the accident.” 

That’s pretty clear. Unfortunately, an exchange of letters that occurred several months prior to May 21, between Gulfstream President Larry Flynn and NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman, left the impression that the relationship between the two organizations had devolved into a backroom feud, not a willing partnership. This makes no sense given the NTSB’s mission and Gulfstream’s reputation.

The NTSB is an independent arm of the federal government that has no regulatory or enforcement powers. Its focus is soley on improving safety — a mission the public has supported since 1967, when the board was created to investigate all civil aviation accidents in the United States.

Indeed, Congress took special care to help the NTSB root out all the facts following any crash. The board’s analysis of factual information and its determination of probable cause cannot be entered as evidence in a court of law, according to the board’s Web site. There’s no reason to lawyer up, redact names and other information and become combative.

In some ways, dealing with the board’s investigators is like talking with priests in confessionals. Information that’s obtained through this process can’t be used in potential lawsuits — a hugely important restriction, given today’s litigious world. 

Likewise, Gulfstream is a leading corporate citizen in Savannah and the entire state. Its management and employees have earned a well-deserved reputation for their many positive economic and civic contributions to the community and the region. 

So what happened? Why did Mr. Flynn feel the need to send a letter to the NTSB chairman on March 31, 2012, as well as an earlier one on Feb. 22, 2012? Those letters triggered a written response on April 4, 2012 — almost a year to the date after the fatal crash — from Ms. Hersman. She fired back with a list of concerns raised by NTSB investigators and managers, including stonewalling and the loss of evidence.

For example, it was reported that a key piece of evidence related to the NTSB investigation — the computer hard drive that contained accident-related telemetry data — was missing. Investigators routinely comb through hard drives to mine data that may be important. But in this case, according to the FBI, the hard drive likely had been “inadvertently discarded in the trash” by a Gulfstream employee charged with its safekeeping. That’s mind-boggling. How could such a thing have happened in a presumably controlled enviroment after a fatal crash?

It’s possible to conclude from the letters between Gulfstream and the NTSB that the company may be concerned about the public release of proprietry information during or after the investigative process.
That’s no small matter.

The G650 is Gulfstream’s ultra-large-cabin, ultra-long-range business aircraft. It has a $58 million base price. The market for these high-end products is extremely competitive. If secrets get out, it could mean lost sales and jobs.

Mr. Flynn obviously tried to reassure the NTSB chairman in his March 30 letter, stating that “Gulfstream has fully supported the NTSB investigation, has behaved with the highest ethical standards and has at all times made the safety of its flight test and flight operations its highest priority.” 

But it’s equally clear, given the response from the NTSB chairman just four days later, that concerns remained. “Litigous behavior frustrates the party process and degrades working relationships,” Ms. Hersman wrote. “We expect all parties to work with us toward our mutual goals of fully understanding the circumstances of the accident and improving safety.”

Two months have elapsed since those words were written. That’s plenty of time for the war of words to have ended — and for Gulfstream and the NTSB to be on the same page, not on different planets.

Job One is to cooperate. Job Two is to figure out what happened in Roswell so that it never happens again.

Gulfstream Aerospace Corp.'s ultra-large-cabin, ultra-long-range Gulfstream G650 business-jet aircraft received a type certificate today from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The certification verifies the airworthiness of the aircraft's design. Gulfstream expects to deliver the first fully outfitted G650 business jets to customers before year end. The company has received more than 200 orders for the aircraft.

"The G650 is a superlative aircraft with the most technologically advanced flight deck in business aviation and the largest, most comfortable cabin in its class. In short, the G650 speaks to all that is good about business aviation: safety, security, flexibility, comfort, and capability," said Larry Flynn, president, Gulfstream. "We designed the G650 with significant input from our Advanced Technology Customer Advisory Team, and we're extremely proud of what our entire organization has accomplished with this aircraft."

"The G650 sets the new world standard for business-jet performance, range, speed and comfort," said Jay L. Johnson, chairman and chief executive officer of Gulfstream's parent corporation, General Dynamics.  "The Gulfstream team has done an outstanding job in designing and manufacturing what is already the envy of the global market and is sure to become a milestone aircraft in aviation history."

Read Saturday's Savannah Morning News and return to for the complete story.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.