Gulfstream G700 delays illustrate upended realities of big jet FAA approval

Regulatory nuances create a challenge of certifying increasingly complex aircraft in the wake of historic aviation reforms

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Release Date
March 7, 2024
Gulfstream G700 delays illustrate upended realities of big jet FAA approval

In October 2023, Gulfstream Aerospace President Mark Burns told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the company was “really close” to the certification and first delivery of its highly-anticipated G700 ultra-large long-range business jet, a stretched derivative of the successful G650. He said that Gulfstream only had “a couple more” flight tests left, and was on track to certify its new flagship by the end of the calendar year. 

As the fall progressed, Gulfstream was hanging onto its target even until the last days of December. Yet, the end of 2023 came and went, meaning today in March 2024, Gulfstream and its customers are still waiting for the aircraft to be certified — a date now projected for the end of the first quarter 2024.

Since Congress significantly revised the law around Federal Aviation Administration certification at the end of 2020, the aviation regulator said it has approved 41 updates to existing aircraft, but so far only approved one major change to a large transport category Part 25 aircraft (so named for its section of federal regulations) under a U.S.-based amended type certificate, the Boeing 737-8200, which adds the 737 Max 9’s activated mid-aft door to the fuselage for high-density seating for carriers like Ryanair and Allegiant Air. That approval came in March 2021.

Related: Honda sets up test of FAA for nearly-new Echelon business Jet

Since then, what took place with Gulfstream in the final months of 2023, and into this limbo period of certification delays at the beginning of 2024, provides a glimpse into how the FAA is now approaching the certification of Part 25 aircraft intended to enter the market on an amended type certificate built off of existing aircraft (no U.S. plane maker is currently offering a clean sheet design for Part 25 certification).

That approach, according to new reporting by The Air Current, has been bogged down by a perfect storm of variables at the FAA that some at the center of the Part 25 certification ecosystem believe to be responsible for holding up the entry into service of aircraft like the G700 — from a growing list of rulemaking projects backlogged from the Trump administration and ongoing oversight woes with Boeing, to still-ongoing recovery efforts from the COVID-19 pandemic and internal staffing and restructuring troubles. With that storm continuing to rage, what is clear is that the events surrounding Gulfstream’s newest entrant point to an increasingly long lasting and significant impact on the rest of the industry’s efforts to bring new platforms into service.

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