G500 Creates a Splash

As high-speed cameras recorded the action, a Gulfstream G500 test aircraft splashed along a water-soaked runway to gauge engine performance during water ingestion.

Required by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, the test ensures that aircraft engines are still able to perform during a sudden intake of water kicked up as landing gear touches down on a rain-soaked runway.

Gulfstream experimental test pilots and engineers conducted testing at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility at Wallops Island, Virginia. Wallops uses a 200-foot-long trough that contains 7,000 gallons of water. That creates standing water about an inch deep.

In a series of runs, the G500 gradually increased speed from about 70 mph to 140 mph to determine at what speed the Pratt & Whitney Canada engines took on the most water. Once that was determined, the G500 ran through the water at that speed but with different throttle and flap settings, said Scott Martin, senior experimental test pilot, Gulfstream.

Most modern runways are crowned and scored with perpendicular grooves that channel water off the paved surface, but certification calls for testing under extreme conditions, and in some rare cases, a sudden severe storm could leave water on the runway.