Bombardier has given a supersonic start to the launch of its long-promised 8,000nm (14,800km)-range Global 8000 – flying a test aircraft beyond the speed of sound as part of its certification campaign.
In addition to the huge range, the new jet will have a maximum speed of Mach 0.94 and be capable of carrying 19 passengers. Service entry is scheduled for 2025.
But there’s a twist: it’s not the aircraft the Canadian airframer envisaged at the start of the programme. Back when Bombardier first touted the ultra-long-range twinjet, it was planned as a 2.6m (8.5ft) shrink of its 33.8m-long Global 7000 sister which was capable of flying 500nm further, hitting the 7,900nm mark.
However, while the Global 7000 progressed, eventually morphing into the 7,700nm-range Global 7500, the 8000 remained stuck on the drawing board.
In the meantime the market has changed, in particular with Gulfstream’s launch earlier this year of its 8,000nm-range G800, which is due to arrive in 2023.
Bombardier needed a response, but in its view, building a jet that could fly only 200nm more at the expense of cabin volume, or two passenger seats, was not the right approach.
Instead, it has taken a radical – albeit lower-cost – step: rather than developing an all-new jet it has instead souped up the performance of the Global 7500 to create an aircraft that can fly 8,000nm and up to 1.3% faster than the current M0.925 maximum.
Launching the aircraft at EBACE this morning, chief executive Eric Martel said customers wanted to know if it would still pursue the Global 8000 “given that the Global 7500 was performing so well - today we are happy to give you the answer”.
The new Global is “two aircraft in one”, he says, providing “everything the Global 7500 has to offer” but with “a level of performance that has never been seen before in business aviation”.
Bombardier has already begun validating the modifications required using its FTV5 flying testbed operating from a site in the USA. And on 18 May 2021 – accompanied by a NASA-operated Boeing F-18 fighter – the aircraft was taken past the sound barrier to M1.015, becoming the fastest civil aircraft since Concorde and taking a crucial step towards certificating the new standard.
Service entry for the Global 8000 is anticipated in 2025, says Bombardier. At that point two things happen – thanks to a service bulletin all Global 7500 owners will be able to convert their jets into the Global 8000, and production of the earlier model is phased out in favour of the longer-range aircraft; list price also rises from $75 million to $78 million.
“The speed and cabin size will be will be more than those of the G800 – we have taken a no compromise mentality to how we want to position this aircraft at the top of the pyramid,” says Bombardier.
The Global 8000 will be 33.8m long, with 16.59m of useable cabin space, compared with respective figures of 14.27m and 30.4m for the G800.
“We are doing everything that we wanted to do with the original Global 8000 but with the longer fuselage,” adds Bombardier.
To turn one Global into the other, changes are needed to the control software for the GE Aviation Passport engines and tweaks enabling more fuel to be carried. “We are going to be utilising space and weight savings to be able to carry more fuel to unlock the range potential of the aircraft,” says Bombardier.
A single prototype will be used for the certification campaign, says Bombardier.
Development costs should be relatively modest, says Bombardier, and in line with it previously announced 2025 spending plan, the bulk of the programme investment having already been absorbed during the Global 7500’s genesis, it notes.