Bombardier’s Flagship Contender
When it comes to long range bizjets, Gulfstream has the G650, Dassault the Falcon 8X and next year Bombardier will deliver the first Global 7000. It’s all about range, speed and passenger comfort, and the Global 7000 has it all.
In 2010, Bombardier announced that they were going to develop the Global 7000 and 8000, a stretch of the Global 6000, which itself was an upgrade of the Global Express, Bombardier’s winning design launched in 1993.
The Gulfstream/Bombardier rivalry goes back decades. When the Global Express was launched, it was a revolutionary move to create an aircraft that would extend the range of the purpose-built bizjet to keep pace with the Gulfstream V. Over the years, the companies have played leapfrog, developing innovative aircraft that enjoyed remarkable sales success while pushing the state-of-the-art ever higher. The Global 7000 leaps into the lead in terms of range – and other features too.
In addition to being longer than the Global 6000, the Global 7000 comes with new transonic wings, new engines and avionics, and an infinitely customisable four-zone cabin – an industry first. This all comes together to produce an ultra-long range business jet that can fly up to 19 passengers as fast and slightly further than Gulfstream’s G650. With first delivery expected next year, the Global 7000 looks to set the standard amongst leading flagship bizjets.
First flight for the Global 7000 was in November 2016, and Bombardier, on track with the flight test programme, now has two of the five planned test aircraft flying (FTV1 and FTV2).
The latest big news in the programme is that FTV1 reached a remarkable Mach 0.995 during high speed tests in late March, equalling the top speed reached by the Gulfstream G650 in high speed tests in 2010.
Speed limitation on these jets is a regulatory, rather than a physical limitation – coming within five-thousandths of Mach One is about as close as you can get to breaking the sound barrier without actually breaking it.
The Global 7000 is powered by two GE Aviation Passport engines, delivering 16,500 pounds of thrust each. Based on the high-efficiency CFM Leap engines developed for the A320neos and 737 MAXs, they incorporate a 52-inch titanium ‘blisk’, a single forging of the fan blades and turbine disk that saves weight and reduces vibration; a lightweight, aerodynamic nacelle; and a ‘super-finish’ on the blisks and compressor blades improves efficiency by smoothing air flow.
Both FTV1 and FTV2 are fitted with pre-production versions of the wings. Wings on production aircraft will be lighter, but the aerodynamics of the aerofoils will remain unchanged. The first flight of a prototype Global 7000 with the lighter-weight wing is expected later this year. In addition to improved efficiency and a smooth ride, a key aspect of the redesigned wing is that it allows for steep approach capability and improved short field performance. In ISA conditions at sea level and at maximum weights, the Global 7000 can land in 856 metres, and takeoff in just over 1,800 m.
As with the high-speed tests, the G650 and Global 7000 are neck and neck in terms of range and cruise performance. Both aircraft have a top speed of Mach 0.925, high speed cruise of Mach 0.90 and long range cruise of Mach 0.85. But the Global 7000 has the legs to fly 7,400 nm with IFR reserves, while the G650 has a range of 7,000 nm. (The G650ER will travel 7,500 nm, but then, Bombardier’s Global 8000 will fly 7,900 nm.)
The Global 7000, therefore, connects Johannesburg to New York, London, Hong Kong and Perth with ten passengers. It’s a true intercontinental jet, connecting Johannesburg directly to major business cities on every continent, and looks to set speed records getting there. The 7000 can fly directly to 43,000 ft, and then, when some fuel has been burned off, can reach 51,000 ft, outclassing regular airliners, and ensuring that passengers fly in the smooth air above the weather.
Bombardier knows who to please when it comes to business jets – and so the cabin is in a class of its own. The 7000’s fuselage is about 11 feet longer than the Global 6000, resulting in 2,637 cubic feet of cabin space. This is noticeably more room than the Gulfstream G650’s 2,138 square feet. However, the G650 cabin is two inches taller and four inches wider than the 7000’s, which are six feet, three inches tall and eight feet, two inches wide.
The Global 7000 has the first true four-zone cabin, (outclassing the airliner-derived Legacy 650’s three-zone cabin) as well as a dedicated crew rest area. Each zone is hugely customisable. The purpose is to create the feel of a luxurious home and office in the sky, with distinctive zones that serve specific purposes. Features include a double convection/microwave and convection/steam capabilities; a mid-cabin self-serve galley and panoramic passenger windows that give the cabin an airy feel – Bombardier claims the larger windows provide more natural light in the cabin than in any other bizjet; redesigned seats; a centre lounge/media room with 42- to 50-inch flat-screen monitors; adjustable colour LEDs in the ceiling, and a conference/dining table that seats six.
The aft (fourth) cabin area is a private stateroom, which comes standard with a single executive suite with a pull-out table, a three-place divan and angled entertainment area, but it can also be configured with a permanent bed. Adjoining the aft cabin on the 7000 is an en-suite lavatory and an optional stand-up steam shower. There is a second lavatory at the front of the cabin, behind the flight deck. At the rear of the aircraft is a capacious 195-cubic-foot baggage hold.
Passengers control temperature and air circulation. The Bombardier Global 7000 comes with a high differential cabin that circulates 100% fresh air. Cabin altitude at 41,000 ft is around 4,000 ft – that’s over 1,000 ft lower than Johannesburg, although not the best in its class. Furthermore, state-of-the-art sound dampening materials reduce noise and vibration, making the cabin on the Global 7000 one of the quietest around.
The 7000’s passenger seats incorporate a forward rocking motion, such as found on your reclining couch at home, and an integrated cabin-management and in-flight-entertainment system that allows passengers to control LED lighting and window shades. The cabin management systems will also let passengers receive prompts based on their activity onboard the aircraft. For example, once you select a movie for viewing, you’ll be prompted to set the lighting to ‘movie mode’, automatically lowering cabin illumination and dropping nearby window shades. Communication, entertainment and information access uses new high-speed, Ka-band satellite technology. Content can also be streamed from the passengers’ personal smart devices.
The 7000 features full fly-by-wire flight controls and the Bombardier Global Vision flight deck, based on Rockwell Collins’ Pro Line Fusion avionics. Control inputs are via a side-stick and the avionics panel comes with the latest touch-screen and safety features. There are four 15.1-inch (diagonal) displays, arranged three across the top – PFDs left and right and an MFD in the centre – with a shared FMS/radio tuner display below the MFD. Every display can do reversionary duty, so there is redundancy upon redundancy. Furthermore, the displays are customisable and have memory settings, so, if someone else flies your aircrfat, you can reset everything to just how you like it.
This avionics system comes with synthetic vision on a head-up display (HUD). The screen folds down and presents the pilot with all the necessary aircraft performance, mapping and terrain information. It mirrors what is displayed on the primary flight display and makes for excellent situational awareness.
While the HUD symbology is rendered in electro-green on black compared to the rich, colourful look of the PFD, the presentation is based on the same symbology principles. The tapes are presented the same, the guidance cues are the same and the layout is roughly the same as well. The result is that going from HUD to PFD or vice versa doesn’t require the pilot to make many mental adjustments.
Finally, the Global Vision flight deck comes with airborne datalink, advanced systems monitoring and increasingly capable and smart autoflight systems. The level of automation is remarkable, with autothrottles and autobrakes, hence the less than 1,000-metre landing distance.
The flight deck also features a side-facing jumpseat that can be positioned to face either forward or aft, and there is a fully-enclosed crew rest area so that pilots can rest in comfort, while maintaining privacy for the crew and passengers on long haul flights.
Any long range bizjet comes with an eye-watering price tag, and, at US$72 million, the Global 7000 is the most expensive of its closest competitors: the Falcon 8X and Gulfstream G650. However, the direct operating costs of the Global 7000 and G650 are similar.
While Bombardier is not publishing a specific backlog figure, estimates are that around 200 orders were accumulated at the time of first flight in November 2016, with major players such as fractional-ownership leader NetJets having placed fleet orders for the aircraft.
FLIGHT TESTING PROGRESS
Following a two-year programme delay announced by Bombardier in mid-2015, the Global 7000 is scheduled to enter service in late 2018. As mentioned, as of March this year, Bombardier had two of the planned five test aircraft flying. Since first flight, Bombardier has racked up 200 hours in the flight test campaign with two prototypes. FTV2, named ‘The Powerhouse’, is designed to test aircraft systems, including propulsion, electrical and mechanical systems.
“Our flight test vehicles continue to show a high degree of maturity in testing, dispatching twice daily in many cases,” says Michel Ouellette, senior vice-president for the Global 7000 and Global 8000 programmes. “We have strong momentum in the programme right now, and we are on track for entry into service in 2018.”