EBACE Convention News

With Longer Legs, Bombardier Flagship Becomes 7500

 - May 28, 2018, 5:30 AM
Bombardier’s new flagship Global 7500 boasts a 300-nm range increase and remains on pace for certification this year.

As Bombardier nears the completion of the flight-test campaign of its flagship Global 7000, the Canada-based aircraft manufacturer has a new name for the very-long-range, four-zone clean-sheet business jet: the Global 7500. The name signifies its recently confirmed longer range of 7,700 nm, which makes it the longest-traveling purpose-built business jet. But it also falls in line with the nomenclature of the newest members of the Global family, the Global 5500 and the 6500.

Keeping the naming in line with the new Globals provides “clear visibility” into the product line, said Brad Nolen, vice president of marketing and product strategy.

Bombardier (Stand 22, Booth Z125) announced the 300-nm range increase in April, saying the change opens up new routes such as New York to Hong Kong and Singapore to San Francisco nonstop. Stephen McCullough, vice president, integrated product development, Global 7000 and Global 8000, underscored the importance of this to the aircraft’s customers. People may ask what’s the difference between 7,400 and 7,700 nm, he said, but stressed that it matters for routes such as New York to Hong Kong that are at the edge of 7,400 nm or 7,500 nm. The 7,700-nm range makes those city pairs practical and can be guaranteed to customers. “This makes the aircraft very usable,” he said.

The company ensured the routes not only through analysis but through the use of multiple flight-test vehicles, he added. “We were very clear to validate these performance [figures]. These numbers are good in the bank.”

With that range, Bombardier ensured the wing design and fly-by-wire flight controls provide for a smooth ride. “This aircraft is designed for customers,” he said. “We have a lot of real design…and focus to manage the smooth ride.” When a passenger flies the distances that the Global 7500 is capable of, a smooth ride is increasingly important, McCullough added.

Along with the range change, the flight-test program has confirmed improved takeoff and landing distance parameters. McCullough said the company was careful not to sacrifice this with the additional range, noting the importance of having access to a greater number of airports. “This aircraft is a very balanced aircraft,” he said.

The flight-test program verified a new published takeoff distance of 5,800 feet with full fuel in standard operating conditions. In addition, the landing distance is 2,850 feet, and Bombardier officials already have begun paving the way for steep approach approval to airports such as London City. Bombardier expects this approval soon after the aircraft enters service later this year, benefitting from experience it had with the fly-by-wire system on the C Series airliner, McCullough said.

Flight-test Fleet

Behind these changes is a flight-test program that has involved five aircraft that have amassed about 2,000 hours, along with static and motion flight simulators. The flight test program is so mature that Bombardier brought FTV 1, the so-nicknamed “Performer,” to EBACE this year, a signal that the aircraft has—for the most part—completed its assigned flight trials, he said. That aircraft was used to clear the way for full envelope flight testing.

FTV 1 kicked off the flight test campaign on Nov. 4, 2016, and was followed with first flight of FTV 2 on March 4, 2017. FTV 2, “the Powerhouse,” is nearly wrapped up with flight testing as well—McCullough said within a few weeks, in fact—and has undergone a series of performance testing in various conditions, such as water ingestion testing at Cape Canaveral in Florida.

"The Navigator," FTV 3, is certifying the avionics. That aircraft, which flew for the first time on May 10, 2017, benefited from flight-testing on the simulators, not only from Bombardier and vendors, but also with potential customers from a human-factors standpoint.

FTV 4, "the Architect," flew on Sept. 28, 2017, and is busy testing and certifying various aspects of the interior, McCollough said, noting this is why Bombardier was unable to bring it to EBACE to show off the interior and all of its features. Interior features will also be displayed at the Bombardier exhibit on the show floor.

The fifth FTV, the so-called "Masterpiece," took to the skies on January 30 with a lighter wing. It has completed the requisite flutter testing to validate the performance with that change, and also has been flown to verify the optimization of the aircraft performance, McCullough said. “We really are in the final throes of flight testing,” he said. “We are weeks away.“

On the ground, the company has completed the first full fatigue cycle of the airframe and plans to have the second accomplished before entry-into-service by year-end. The company is planning three such tests. The ultimate wing load test—also referred to as the “wing break” test—has been completed and fully met expectations, he said.

Modular, Customizable Interior

A lot of attention and detail is being paid to the interior of FTV 4, which with a 54-foot 7-inch-long cabin provides for four distinct living spaces plus crew rest area. McCullough called the crew rest area a must given the length of time the aircraft might fly. The aircraft also is incorporating a full kitchen, he added. 

While the cabin is highly customizable, down to the incorporation of artwork at a customer’s request, the company is taking a modular approach to completions that will help cut down time for outfitting. Nolen said the company is finding a number of customers are opting for an aft stateroom that includes a fixed bed with an en-suite area. Other spaces could include an entertainment area, dining and/or office suite, and typical club seating area.

The cabin management system was designed in concert with Lufthansa Technik with a range of communication and entertainment amenities. And the seating features Bombardier’s new patented Nuage seats that are designed to ergonomically adapt to the passenger.

The $72.8 million 7500 will be completed at Bombardier’s Montreal center, currently where Global 5000s and 6000s are outfitted. Global 5000 completions, however, are shifting to Wichita, and the 6000 to another Bombardier facility in Montreal. The Montreal center is now already running at near full capacity, with three shifts operating and the positions of the aircraft angled slightly to accommodate more stations. Bombardier has expanded and incorporated a number of enhancements to the center in anticipation of the ramp up on Global 7500s, investing between $55 million to $60 million in the facilities.

Completions time will be key for Bombardier as it works its way through the initial backlog, which the manufacturer estimates extends over three years.