Ever since setting an east-to-west around the world speed record in a Bombardier Challenger 601 in 1984, TAG vice-president Aziz Ojjeh has had an even grander goal in mind -beating the speed record for flying around the globe from pole-to-pole.

Ojjeh celebrated the November 2008 culmination of that dream here on Sunday, when the Federation Aeronautique International (FAI) officially recognized the 52h 31min 4s record-breaking flight he and his team accomplished between 21 and 23 November in a TAG-owned Bombardier Global Express.

Ojjeh and four pilots, supported by an operations manager, flight engineer and official observer, flew HB-JEX from TAG's Farnborough facility to the north-west, crossing the North Pole and later the South Pole before returning to Farnborough. The aircraft made five "pit" stops, with an average turnaround time of 32min for each stop, assisted by pre-placed Bombardier, TAG and local FBO employees. The official average ground speed for the flight was 444.2kt (822.8km/h), beating the previous record of 423kt held by a Pan Am Boeing 747SP in 1977. That flight was made to commemorate Pan Am's 50th anniversary.

TAG Aviation Transpolar 08
 © TAG Aviation

"I started thinking about this in 1984," Ojjeh says, "and last spring I decided it was time to do it." The team came together last summer with the intent of making the record-setting attempt this year to mark the 25th anniversary of Ojjeh's 1984 feat, but they ultimately decided to go in November.

While Ojjeh says the team had contemplated using several different aircraft for the trip, the Global Express won out in part due to its ample space for a crew rest area. The aircraft performed extremely well, say the pilots, with no cockpit, cabin or engine anomalies. Routeing selection took into account the aircraft's range as well as weather, winds and geopolitical boundaries, as well as the FAI requirement that the two equatorial crossings had to be at least 13.320km (7,200nm) apart. The aircraft flew at cruise altitudes between 43,000ft (13.115m) and 49,000ft.

Given Ojjeh's penchant for record setting -along with his two global adventures, he holds several skydiving records -the obvious question is what's next? "I'd like to help others set new records," he says, "perhaps those flying solar- or hybrid-powered aircraft."

Source: Flight Daily News