With Transport Canada type certification (TC) in hand, Bombardier is turning to full production ramp up of its 7,700-nm, four-zone, flagship 7500. The Canadian airplane-maker formally received the much-anticipated TC for the aircraft on September 28 during a ceremony held at its Global Completion Center in Montreal. U.S. FAA and EASA certification are anticipated shortly, with deliveries slated to begin before year-end.
“The certification of our clean-sheet Global 7500 business jet is a defining moment for Bombardier, for our employees, and for the industry, as we approach entry-into-service,” said Bombardier Business Aircraft president David Coleal. “Thanks to the rigor and innovation of our design and test program, the Global 7500 has succeeded in elevating every standard by which a business jet is measured: comfort, luxury, performance, and a smooth ride.”
Certification comes eight years after Bombardier took the wraps of its longest range and largest business jet to date. Unveiled as the Global 7000, the aircraft was renamed the Global 7500 this past spring, to provide “clear visibility” into the growing Global family, according to Bombardier. The series also includes the recently introduced Global 5500 and 6500, along with the 5000 and 6000.
While the 7500 program incurred a two-year delay to accommodate a wing redesign, certification followed just two years after the first flight test vehicle took to the skies. That first aircraft, FTV1, dubbed “The Performer,” took off on Nov. 4, 2016, and recently was officially retired from flight testing after completing all of its designated missions.
FTV2, also through with its flight-test missions, has moved into missions to support technical publication development. FTV3, meanwhile, is being used for post-certification testing, and FTV4 was involved in function and reliability testing. The fifth, FTV5, which had a slightly altered wing and represents the final configuration, required fewer than 300 hours for certification testing. By September, the five flight-test aircraft had accrued a combined 2,700 flight hours.
This was augmented by a ground program that included more than 2,900 hours in an engineering simulator, along with a fatigue testing rig that has already completed one life cycle—representing 17,000 cycles—and has begun to undergo a second life cycle. Static testing also was fully completed.
The results of all those tests enabled the company to boost range by 300 nm to 7,700 nm at Mach 0.85, opening up city pairs such as New York to Hong Kong. Looking at the range map, said Michel Ouellette, senior v-p, Global 7500 and Global 8000 program, “It’s not so much about where you can go now. There’s not much where you can’t go.” That range bump already has boosted sales, helping to close some critical deals, added Brad Nolen, vice president of marketing and communications.
Tested to a speed of Mach 0.995, the aircraft has a certified maximum speed of Mach 0.925. The test program also enabled the company to confirm a published takeoff distance of 5,800 feet and landing distance of 2,850 feet.
“During the certification process the team successfully validated all customer and regulatory requirements to yield a highly integrated, state-of-the-art aircraft with the highest level of safety that meets or exceeds the needs of our clients,” said François Caza, vice president, product development and chief engineer, product development engineering.
Service Entry Preparations
As progress continues toward FAA and EASA approvals, Bombardier has turned its attention to market entry. This includes taking authorities through the 7500 simulator in the Montreal training center next to CAE—the builder of the simulator—and securing Level C approval, with Level D up next. Instructor training on the simulator has begun. Further the airplane flight manual is under Transport Canada review and instructions for continued airworthiness are completed.
The first customer aircraft was well into completions in September. “We’re pleased with how far along we are with the first aircraft,” Ouellette said. In fact, more than 20 aircraft were at some level of production by September, with the line full. Bombardier is estimating that about 20 will be delivered through the end of 2019, moving toward 40 the following year. This will help keep pace for an aircraft sold out into 2021.
The company has realigned existing spaces and opened a center of excellence (COE) to accommodate completions of the first jet purposefully designed for a dedicated four-zone interior. It has been ramping up hiring, announcing last year that 1,000 new positions were being created in Montreal alone for completions work.
Green aircraft are built in Toronto, while paint and interiors installation takes place at the Global Completion Center. To accommodate this, Bombardier is shifting Global 5000/5500 completions from Montreal to Wichita, Kansas, and the Global 6000/6500 program from the center to a separate facility in Montreal.
The COE, formally dedicated last November, is finishing cabinetry and other interior components in house with new precision laser measurement tools and a dedicated Global 7500 test rig that will save up to weeks on installation.
Located minutes away from the Global Completion Center, the facility has no aircraft “but plenty of things that feed the aircraft,” said Sophie Valcourt, general manager of the facility, noting the COE has three full shifts running.
One of the key technologies at the COE is a Leica geometric, dimension, and tolerance measurement tool that ensures precise fit of cabinetry before installation. This is designed to eliminate as much of the trim-to-fit process on aircraft as possible. Cabinetry trimming can become costly and time consuming, requiring refinishing of expensive veneers—and possible return to the supplier—should even the slightest nick occur during the process. The precision measurement tool is accurate within 0.003 of an inch.
“The whole principle is to minimize downtime of the aircraft,” said Valcourt, “When the aircraft flies from Toronto to Montreal, we can deliver it in the shortest possible time because we took all the risk and we mitigated it before installing on the aircraft. The worst thing is to install something on the aircraft and then removing it and then reinstalling. We de-risk everything we could.”
Once components are built, they are fitted within an integrated interior test rig that replicates the full size of a 7500 cabin. This enables installers to further verify fit, troubleshooting any issues up front before the interior components are shipped to the actual aircraft.
This is critical given the attention paid to the cabin. Bombardier has provided considerable focus on not only an array of choices for finishes, but to design features such as the patented Nuage seats, a fully functional kitchen, and ability to have a fixed bed. Bombardier further has opted for the latest in cabin electronics and communications, such as Ka-band, the nice Touch cabin management system, and the Bombardier Touch dial that brings OLED display technologies to business.