Bombardier’s flagship Global 7000 felt the wind beneath its wings for the first time on November 4, completing a two-hour, 27-minute maiden flight from the company’s facility in Toronto. Under the control of captain Ed Grabman, copilot Jeff Karnes and flight-test engineer Jason Nickel, the aircraft departed at 10:25 a.m. local time on November 4, climbed to 20,000 feet and reached the planned test speed of 240 knots. During the flight the crew tested basic system functionality and assessed the handling and flying qualities.
The first flight nearly coincided with the 20th anniversary of the first flight of the original Global Express on Oct. 13, 1996. Michel Ouellette, senior v-p of the Global 7000/8000 program, called that anniversary “a huge milestone” that reflects on the successful path the original Global program established. “We’re walking into the next success with the Global 7000 and 8000,” he added. “The first flight is the culmination of an incredible amount of knowledge and experience from our dedicated employees, partners and suppliers,” said Bombardier Business Aircraft president David Coleal. “This is a proud moment for Bombardier and confirms the Global 7000 aircraft program development is on schedule.”
The 7000/8000 program is to become the crown jewel of the manufacturer’s business aircraft fleets. Bombardier has been taking an “all hands on deck” approach to getting the Global 7000, the first of the program, to market by the second half of 2018. Unveiled in 2010, the 7000 has suffered delays as Bombardier struggled to manage cash flow among several research and development programs in recent years. The 8000, meanwhile, is waiting in the wings while Bombardier works to get the 7000 to market. “First flight is a major gate to continue building the program’s momentum, and will also trigger some much needed cash from deposits due from order holders,” said industry analyst Rolland Vincent.
But despite those cash flow issues Ouellette said there has been no compromise on the aircraft. With four distinct living spaces and a 54-foot, seven-inch-long cabin, the 7000 will be larger than any other Global (and any other purpose-built business jet, for that matter), something that Ouellette said makes it “segment defining.” It is also showing that it can meet the 7,400-nm range and a speed of Mach 0.925. The $72.5 million jet has been a strong seller by all indications. Bombardier officials noted that the 7000/8000 program has contributed significantly to its backlog, which stood at $17 billion at midyear.