Savannah – Yesterday afternoon, I caught what seemed to be the return of Gulfstream Savannah Service Center aircraft from Hurricane Evacuation to Lakeland Florida due to Hurricane Florence. A few came in early in the day, but during the afternoon, the majority arrived one after the other. Watching with my Mode-S/ADS-B receiver, they practically formed a fishhook over Savannah as they came in from the south or southwest, turned just east of Savannah and headed for Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport. I began catching them with Jacksonville Center on 135.975 (Alma High) after which they switched to 127.575 (Waycross Low) and 124.675 (Jekyll Low) before switching to 120.400 with Savannah Approach and then 119.100 with Savannah-Hilton Head IAP Tower. The ground guides at the Service Centers must have been pretty busy there for a little bit! I was also able to catch them checking in with the Gulfstream Service Center on 128.925 and being directed to either “GS1” or “GS2.”
All of the returning aircraft used the usual GULFTEST callsign:
Savannah – Gulfstream Aerospace is well along in flight testing of their new G500 and G600 models. Both aircraft are being built at and tested out of Gulfstream’s factory in Savannah at the Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport. If you live near the Georgia coast, you can hear some of the testing activity of these aircraft if you know what to listen for and where to listen for them at. You can also track them on Mode-S/ADS-B while you listen to them. Using Mode-S to identify the flights is actually the best way to identify a Gulfstream test flight as a G500 or G600 instead of another aircraft undergoing flight testing.
What do you need to listen for? First, you need to listen out for the flight testing callsign: GULFTEST ##. They almost always use GULFTEST whether they’re testing a G500 of G600, a G550 or G650, or an older aircraft that’s been in for service. On Mode-S or in Flight Aware, the callsign will show as GLF##. After you’ve found the right GLF## flight, look for an aircraft type of GA5C, which is the G500 or GA6C, which is the G600. They almost always have ADS-B turned on, so you can track their flight path as they do their test flights. To date, I’ve tracked seven G500s and five G600s, here are their N-Numbers and Mode-S codes:
Where do you listen for them at? Most of the test flights take place off of the Georgia coast, so the local air traffic control frequencies for Savannah and the coastal area including Brunswick-Golden Isles Airport as well as SEALORD primary frequencies for offshore SUAs are your best bet and are listed below. Sometimes, the test flights are over land or are cross-country flights, so Jax Center and Atlanta Center frequencies are your best bets then. The Jax Center and Atlanta Center frequencies that can easily be heard from the Savannah area are listed on my MilAir page. The test flights can also be heard on two Gulfstream frequencies which are listed below.
119.100 – Savannah IAP Tower
124.975 – Hunter AAF Tower
123.000 – Brunswick-Golden Isles Airport
120.400 – Savannah Approach/Departure
125.300 – Savannah Approach/Departure
124.675 – Jacksonville Center Jekyll Low
126.125 – Jacksonville Cener Statesboro High
126.750 – Jacksonville Center Brunswick Low
132.425 – Jacksonville Center Hunter High
132.925 – Jacksonville Center Allendale Low
120.950 – SEALORD North Primary
123.200 – WCM9, Gulfstream Aerospace
123.350 – GULFTEST Air-to-Air
The Gulfstream flight testing is something you can listen to with almost any inexpensive scanner (almost all of them these days have VHF airband coverage). Amateur radio operators can also listen to them with a lot of 2m/70cm radios since many rigs that have those bands also offer extended receive in the VHF airband range. Most of the testing also takes place over 10,000 ft, so it’s not hard to hear with handheld radios, especially if you use something like the Diamond RH77CA. Even though most of the aviation activity I listen to is military aviation, I still enjoy monitoring the Gulfstream testing and catching the new G500s and G600s as they start testing.
Savannah – It turns out that I’ve been listening to the initial test flights of Gulfstream’s new G500 jet and didn’t even realize it. My aviation is interest is mostly in the realm of military aviation, but I have found it interesting to listen to Gulfstream flight test ops over the years since their factory is here in Savannah. A recent news release (see below) from Gulfstream made me go back and look at my monitoring notes and Mode-S/ADS-B logs and I realize that I’ve caught some of those initial test flights!
On 10 August, Gulfstream announced that it had completed five test flights of their new G500 jet. I listen to some of their test flight operations and realized that I’d caught some of the G500 test flights on both Mode-S and the radios. N500GA (based on a Gulfstream news release and photo) is the test aircraft for the G500 and I’ve “seen” it up on Mode-S and ADS-B a number of times as A63A87 and heard it as GULFTEST 67. I’m guessing the callsign is test pilot related because that’s the only callsign I’ve seenheard A63A87/N500GA flying under. I also saw/heard it flying yesterday as GULFTEST 67, so the testing continues.
If you’re interested in listening out for Gulfstream’s test flights, keep an ear on these frequencies:
119.100 – Savannah IAP Tower
120.400 – Savannah Approach/Departure
125.300 – Savannah Approach/Departure
132.925 – Jax Center Allendale/Savannah Low
124.675 – Jax Center Jekyll Low
126.750 – Jax Center Brunswick Low
120.950 – Sealord North Primary VHF
123.200 – WCM9, Gulfstream
Many Gulfstream test flights are usually conducted off of and around the coastal Georgia area and are fairly easy to listen to as they take off from Savannah and go out to the offshore SUAs under SEALORD’s control. Most of the time the communications are fairly mundane, but you never know when you’ll catch something interesting by combining what you hear on the radio with what you’re seeing from a Mode-S receiver.
SAVANNAH, Georgia, August 10, 2015 — Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. today announced that the Gulfstream G500 has completed five test flights since it first took to the skies on May 18.
During more than 15 hours of flying, the aircraft achieved a top speed of Mach 0.80 and a maximum altitude of 38,500 feet/11,735 meters. The aircraft’s longest flight was more than four hours.
Over the past several weeks, the aircraft has been undergoing planned modifications in preparation for returning to flight later this month.
“The first five flights exceeded our expectations,” said Dan Nale, senior vice president, Programs, Engineering and Test, Gulfstream. “And they demonstrated that our testing facilities on the ground are having very real benefits in the air, allowing us to identify and address issues before they’re ever seen in flight.”
Gulfstream announced the G500 and G600 family of aircraft on Oct. 14, 2014. Programs for both aircraft are progressing well. As the first G500 flight-test article undergoes modification, two more are preparing for flight and a fourth is in production. Additionally, the first G600 flight-test aircraft has begun the initial stages of production.
Together, the two programs have completed more than 36,000 hours of lab testing, and both the G600 integration test facility (ITF) and the G600 Iron Bird are now operational. The engines for the G500 and G600, the PW814GA and the PW815GA, respectively, were certified by Transport Canada in February.
The G500 and G600 offer an optimized combination of speed, wide-cabin comfort and efficiency providing best-in-class performance with advanced safety features.
The G500 has a range of 5,000 nautical miles/9,260 kilometers at Mach 0.85 or 3,800 nm/7,038 km at Mach 0.90, while the G600 can carry passengers 6,200 nm/11,482 km at Mach 0.85 and 4,800 nm/8,890 km at Mach 0.90. The maximum operating speed for both aircraft is Mach 0.925, the same maximum speed as Gulfstream’s G650 and G650ER.
The G500 and G600 also include Gulfstream’s all-new SymmetryTM Flight Deck, the most advanced, stylish, comfortable and intuitive flight deck in business aviation. The cutting-edge technology comes in the form of active control sidesticks (ACSs), integrated touchscreen controllers, next-generation enhanced vision system (EVS III), and Honeywell Primus Epic avionics.
The G500 and G600 cabins maximize comfort, with an industry-leading cabin altitude of 4,850 feet/1,578 meters at FL510 and 100 percent fresh air that boosts mental alertness and productivity while reducing fatigue.
Gulfstream anticipates certification of the G500 in 2017, with entry into service in 2018. The G600 certification is slated to follow in 2018, with entry into service in 2019.
Savannah – Just before noon today, there were number of fixed wing aircraft in the pattern at Hunter AAF so I decided to go find a spot and do a bit of aviation photography. In addition to a 165th AW C-130H and VP-30 P-3C, which are regular visitors to the Hunter AAF pattern, there was also a C-27J. I found a good spot in the parking lot of the Savannah Centre shopping center at the intersection of Eisenhower and Hodgson Memorial and was able to take some photos of all three as well as one of 3rd Aviation Brigade’s new UH-60Ms. On the UH-60M photo, if you look closely next to the fuselage on the right hand side of the photo you can see a condensation trail from one of the helicopter’s rotor tips.
Yesterday, I also took some photos of a couple of aircraft on approach to Hunter AAF from the house. Included below are also screen shots of the aircraft from the Mode-S receiver. One was NAVY LL 834, a P-8A from VP-30 at NAS Jacksonville. VP-30 is the Fleet Replacement Squadron for the new P-8A and for the P-3 as seen above. GULFTEST 54 was a test flight of a new Gulfstream G650, it hasn’t received its final paint yet.
I’ve been trying for awhile to figure out what type of trunking system the frequencies licensed to Gulfstream Aerospace for a business trunking system were part of, but I never heard anything on them even scanning them conventionally. I’ll chalk that up to just not being in the area at the right time, but I finally heard something today. It seems that it is an LTR system, just not a very busy one. I only heard two talkgroups active, one of them only once. As such it was hard to determine an LCN for the frequencies (right now I’m trying them in numerical order).