Honorable Deborah Hersman, NTSB Board Member

Closing Statement
Chairman Deborah A. P. Hersman
National Transportation Safety Board
Washington, DC - October 10, 2012
Aircraft Accident Report - Crash During Experimental Test Flight
Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation GVI (G650), N652GD
Roswell, NM - April 2, 2011
(As Prepared for Delivery)


In closing, I want to recognize the NTSB staff for their hard work bringing this report to the Board, in particular, the staff from the Office of Aviation Safety and from the Office of Research and Engineering. Lorenda Ward, Investigator-in-Charge, and her team did an outstanding job.

Gulfstream received FAA type certification of the G650 last month. I also want to recognize the Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation for the safety actions they took in the wake of the accident. They recognized that many changes needed to be made and began to implement them.

This accident occurred during developmental flight testing — testing conducted to ensure that an aircraft can meet the requirements of the applicable federal regulations. It's only later, during certification flight testing, that the FAA is fully involved and its flight test pilots and engineers test the aircraft to confirm that it performs in accordance with the regulations. However, I want to commend the FAA, and notably the Atlanta Aircraft Certification Office, for their strong safety stance in their interactions with Gulfstream.

Let me also commend the entire flight test community for its cooperation and for its receptiveness to learn from this accident. The point of the recommendations we issue today are to take the hard-learned lessons from this accident and make changes to better understand, monitor and mitigate the risks associated with flight testing.

There are best practices available. They should be followed by everyone in this community.

Here's how the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School expresses its approach to flight test: "Human lives and millions of dollars depend upon how carefully a test mission is planned and flown."

We can't change what happened in April 2011, but we owe it to the four test flight professionals who lost their lives to make sure we learn from it.

We stand adjourned.