Bombardier’s Global Express has demonstrated its speed and range capabilities logging 19 world records but the aircraft is now being readied to bid for a record that has remained unbroken since October 1977. In that year a PanAm Boeing 747SP circled the globe at an average speed of 423 knots, taking 54 hours, seven minutes and 12 seconds, flying from San Francisco with stopovers at London-Heathrow, Cape Town International and Auckland airports.
Now, for the first time in three decades, an attempt to beat the existing International Aeronautical Federation (FAI) record for flying round the world over both the North and South Poles is in the final planning stages, with the TAG TransPolar08 mission on a Global Express business jet preparing to depart from its base at the company’s Farnborough base near London.
The team flying the aircraft will be led by Aziz Ojjeh, an experienced pilot and vice president of the TAG Group and its subsidiary TAG Aeronautics, a distributor of Bombardier widebody business aircraft in the Middle East since 1977. “I’ve been waiting since 1984 for the right business aircraft to beat this record,” declared Ojjeh when the attempt on the transpolar flight record was announced. In July of that year he set the record for fastest eastbound flight around the world in a Challenger 601 with a time of 49 hours and 27 minutes at an average speed of 411 knots.
For the new challenge, TransPolar08 will attempt an average groundspeed of more than 428 knots to beat the 747SP record, so flight departure will be timed to take place during the most favorable annual weather window and according to completion of final plan details. A successful bid will call for highly coordinated rapid fueling stopovers and optimal overflight permissions.
In order to comply with FAI rules, the record attempt must pass over both geographical poles and pass the equator north-south at least 120 degrees of longitude from its south-north crossing. To help achieve this, Ojjeh will be accompanied by four pilots, an in-flight coordinator, flight engineer and an official FAI observer.
The TransPolar08 will showcase advances in jet technology and fuel efficiency since the 1970s and it is anticipated that fuel consumption will be significantly less than was necessary for a comparable record flight at that time. Research equipment for the UK’s National Physical Laboratory will be aboard to make scientific measurements including the effects of cosmic radiation on flight crews. Purchase of carbon offset credits will make the TransPolar08 flight carbon neutral.