Global 5000 first flight pierces gloomy overcast

 - January 17, 2008, 6:18 AM

Early last month–while Bombardier’s business jet production was closed for a four-month plant shutdown in response to dropping sales and deliveries, and following on the heels of the announcement of a plan that will lay off 3,000 employees–a bit of good news broke through the gloom. The first Global 5000 entered flight-test after completing its maiden voyage on March 7.

During the 3 hr 44 min flight northwest of Toronto, it reached a maximum altitude of 45,000 feet and a maximum indicated airspeed of 340 knots. The flight was dedicated to testing basic system functionality and assessing the aircraft’s handling and flying qualities. It occurred in accordance with the program schedule established at official launch a year ago, said Bombardier. Type certification is on schedule for early next year, with first customer delivery taking place at the end of that year. Bombardier has not disclosed the number of orders for the Global 5000.

Capt. Craig Tylski, principal engineering test pilot at Bombardier’s Flight Test Center, flew the aircraft with copilot Gary Bruce, senior engineering test pilot. Also on board was flight-test engineer Scott Runyan. Loaded with 23,000 pounds of fuel, the aircraft had a takeoff weight of 77,600 pounds. The flight was conducted as a stage climb to 45,000 feet. The first tests took place in an initial altitude block of 15,000 feet to 17,000 feet, and included basic control and handling checks, as well as landing-gear retraction and extension and a gear freefall.

The aircraft then climbed to 31,000 feet for navigation system checks. At 41,000 feet the crew went through engine, pressurization and environmental control checks. At its maximum first-flight altitude of 45,000, engine and handling characteristics were again tested. As the flight-test program moves forward, pilots will take the aircraft (S/N 9127) to its certified ceiling of 51,000 feet and will focus on aerodynamics and interior systems testing.

Global 5000 S/N 9130, the second and final aircraft in the flight-test program, will make its first flight during the coming months. This aircraft will be equipped with a full production interior at Bombardier’s Montreal completion center before relocating to the Wichita flight-test center for mostly function and reliability testing.

Bombardier launched the Global 5000 a little more than a year ago, following two years of market research during which the company “identified the specific needs of customers and operators in the evolving super-large business jet segment.” The aircraft is based on the ultra-long-range Bombardier Global Express.

Meanwhile, a suspected inverter fire in February (under investigation by the NTSB) didn’t stop one of the flight-test versions of the new Bombardier Challenger 300 from flying to Acapulco, Mexico, last month to participate in Aero Expo. As of mid-February, C-GJCV had logged about 250 hours testing interior reliability and maintainability since its first flight one year ago. Bombardier emphasized that the incident with the inverter had nothing to do with the scheduled certification of the Challenger 300 slipping from the first quarter of this year to the second.