Paris Air Show

Global 5000 claims transatlantic record

 - December 15, 2006, 10:37 AM

Engaging in some preshow one-upmanship, Canadian business jet manufacturer Bombardier on Saturday celebrated a transatlantic speed record for its long-range Global 5000 that was slightly faster and slightly longer than a similar record flown only three weeks before by bitter chief rival Gulfstream.

Bombardier pilots Roger Noble and Bruce Robinson blasted off from the 5,000-foot runway at Palwaukee Airport just outside Chicago at 8:49 p.m. Central Daylight Time Friday for the 3,510-nm speed dash to Le Bourget. Flying in the first production Global 5000 with the full weight of a completed interior, four people and extra fuel equivalent to having eight passengers on board, the airplane completed the trip in a record 7 hours 15 minutes, pulling up to the hangar at Signature Flight Support here at Le Bourget a few minutes past 11:00 a.m. on Saturday morning.

That mark was better by four minutes than a similar U.S.-to-Europe record flight by a Gulfstream 450. But the Gulfstream flight involved a nonstop journey from Chicago O’Hare Airport to London Luton Airport, covering about 300 nm fewer than the Bombardier pilots and using a longer runway for takeoff.

An Astra business jet pilot who just happened to be strolling by as champagne corks were popping at the successful conclusion of the Bombardier flight stopped to ask what the celebration was all about. When told it was to commemorate a record-breaking nonstop flight from Chicago to Paris in 7 hours and 15 minutes, the pilot’s jaw quite literally dropped. “Wow,” he said. “That’s impressive.” It’s worth noting that this pilot’s flight from Atlanta to Le Bourget the day before was more than nine hours, not counting time spent refueling in Gander, Newfoundland, he said.

The Bombardier pilots recounted that the flight was flown initially at FL 410 with a subsequent climb to FL 450 and at an average cruise speed of Mach 0.88. This was the third confirmed record flight for the Global 5000, but the first speed record. The previous two flights were route- and distance-proving flights, one from San Francisco to London (4,816 nm) and the other from Dublin, Ireland, to Las Vegas against strong headwinds (4,597 nm).

The airplane that set the speed record on Saturday, N140AE, is Bombardier’s own demonstrator airplane. It features a 10-passenger interior, Rockwell Collins Airshow 21 cabin entertainment system, Inmarsat voice and high-speed-data satcom system, head-up display and Honeywell Primus 2000XP avionics. Certification of the airplane’s $500,000 infrared enhanced vision system is expected within the next few months.

The first customer $34.5 million Global 5000 was delivered to its new owner, a corporate operator in the Middle East. A Bombardier support team is being dispatched to the operator’s home base to ensure a smooth entry into service, Bombardier said. The manufacturer would not reveal order figures for the airplane but said its production backlog extends well into next year.