A MODEL OF A PLANE is sitting on my desk. It is a miniature of a Global Express aircraft. I love planes and surround myself with them whenever possible, so there is a good deal of them in my house. Needless to say it annoys the rest of my family, but they dust this model particularly carefully because of its beauty. So beautiful that even people who are hazy about aviation can appreciate it: as everybody knows beautiful planes fly well.
With a New Wing
In October 1991 at the annual NBAA convention in Orlando Bombardier Aerospace presented another novelty — the BD 700 project. The early 1990s were an interesting time for business aviation: new business jets becoming increasingly heavier and long-range were showing clearly how strong the financial muscle of the world business elite had become and how much its domain in the world had widened. The major producers such as Gulfstream Aerospace, Boeing, Airbus, Dassault Aviation were already working hard in the new direction so it was quite natural to expect something of the same from Bombardier.
The BD 700 was a high-speed aircraft meant for ultra-long distances: the new machine was expected to make flights of 9,000 to 10,000 km. Typically, planes of such a range were not something new to business aviation, but Bombardier was to design a new model rather than modify an old one as it happened to the Gulfstream V for instance. A wing designed for long high-speed flights and landings on aerodromes with short runways and complicated approach (like London City airport) was to become the main novel feature. In addition to the new wing the plane also needed low-consumption engines and up-to-date avionics. And only the fuselage totally corresponded to the standards of Challenger business jets and CRJ airliners. The diameter was originally good and all that was left to do was to choose an optimal length.
The design of the wing was entrusted to the Japanese Mitsubishi Heavy Industries concern which aviation subdivision has got extensive experience in this field. And the Japanese engineers coped remarkably well. A graceful, light and flexible wing of the BD 700 combined a respectable wingspan, an enlarged sweep, developed runway mechanization and a supercritical profile. It had everything to fly at high altitudes and high speeds.
The programme of making a new jet was developing very fast. By September 1992 a full-size mock-up of the plane already named Global Express had been built. As for the production it officially started in December 1996. The machine made its maiden flight in October 1996. Then factory and certification tests involving four planes began. They lasted for two years and proved to be the most lengthy and complicated in the history of business aviation. The point is that, apart from Canadian and American certificates acquired in June and November, 1998 respectively, the plane was also to become the first business jet to get the new European JAA JAR-25 certificate, but European safety and airworthiness requirements to civil aviation were much more exacting than American and Canadian ones. In May 1999 the certification barrier was successfully broken down, and in July the first mass-produced Global Express was delivered to the customer.
It can be said that the Global Express is built by the whole world. Wings and central sections of the fuselage are produced at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries plant in Nagoya, Japan. Engine nacelles, fuselage fore-sections and horizontal empennage are made at the Short Brothers factory in Belfast, NI. Fuselage nose sections with a cockpit are built by Canadair, and the De Havilland Canada plant in Toronto assembles fuselage tail sections with vertical empennage as well as performs the final assembly, after that “the green tail” goes to one of the centres in the USA or Canada to complete the cabin. Besides the mentioned subcontractors the Global Express project involves systems, units and airborne equipment suppliers such as Rolls-Royce, Dowty Aerospace, Sextant Avionique, Honeywell, Parker Bertea Aerospace, Lucas Aerospace, AlliedSignal Engines, Abex NWL Aerospace. So, that is the way internationalism work.
So what did the customer acquire? An excellent means of transport that can take passengers as far as 11,369 km at quite a high for a civil aircraft maximum cruising speed of up to 924 km/h, which is 0.89 of sound speed. These figures imply the ease of travel especially when it comes to intercontinental routes such as Moscow–New York or New York–Moscow. In principle, the Global Express is able to fly from any spot on the globe to any other one without a landing or with one refuelling landing.
The cabin of the Global Express can seat from 8 to 19 passengers depending on a kit. Its cross section corresponds to the one of the Challenger 604 cabin. But the Global Express cabin is trimmed and equipped better. And it is visibly more spacious. However, the cabin equipment with communication and entertainment gadgets depends largely on what a customer wants. Still, it is important to mention a large, well-furnished galley, two lavatories and a sizeable baggage compartment that can be accessed from the cabin and seats for two or three flight attendants. The cabin is divided into two parts — a recreation area and a meeting room. The modern noise insulation system provides silence during the whole flight. By the time the Global Express came onto the market its major competitors — the Gulfstream V (G500) and Falcon 900EX — had already gained a foothold there. The delay was due to the European certificate tests. Nevertheless, wealthy customers appreciated quickly the flight performance of the plane, the level of comfort and Bombardier’s flexible pricing that always contributed to the success of Canadian business jets. Among the first fortunate buyers of the Global Express there were such celebrities as Céline Dion, Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey and Paul Allen. Such airplanes were also bought by some of the Russian citizens.
Heirs of Fame
It seems like the maiden flight of the Global Express took place not so long ago but the line of the first modification has already split into two. Now we should speak about the Global business jet family which includes the Global Express XRS and Global 5000. They appeared almost simultaneously. Both planes perform similar tasks. However, these tasks are not exactly the same. The Global Express XRS was the result of an inevitable development process aimed at improving the design and performance characteristics of the plane. As for the Global 5000 it was intended to fill a certain price niche that had formed between the redesigned predecessor and more modest classes of business jets.In 2002 the Global 5000 programe was started, the Global Express XRS programme was launched in 2003. When the two projects were close to completion the gap narrowed: the first supplies took place in April and November respectively in 2005. In September 2005 the last 148 “old” Global Express was sold, and from that very moment the history of new Globals began.
An increased flight range at a maximum cruising speed and new airborne systems became the most distinctive features of the Global Express XRS. In total 736 kg was added. The enhanced fuel system lets refuel the plane faster.
The Global Express XRS was also enabled to take off while its wing flaps were removed. That allowed the airplane to use high-level aerodromes and take off with a large amount of fuel. The plane standard equipment also included the Bombardier Enhanced Vision System integrated into a transparent display on the windscreen. With the help of its infrared sensor it was possible to “see” through fog and at night.
The progress didn’t pass by passengers as well. The organization of the cabin electronic equipment was based on an integrated system combining entertainment functions (track selection and listening, video screening, video camera images and cartographic data display) and communication functions (satellite phone, e¬ mail and access to the Internet). There is LED illumination in the cabin that allows to vary the intensity and colour gamma of light.
The Global Express XRS costs around $50 million. But this price doesn’t suit everyone because not everyone needs such a high level of comfort and such a big flight range. The Global 5000 was created to comply with this market requirement. It had a smaller fuel margin; the finish and equipment of its interior were the same as in business jets of the Challenger family. The price was about $40 million. In other respects this machine isn’t less impressive and can fly form Moscow to New York without an intermediate landing. Moreover, in June 2005 the Global 5000 set a new speed record at ultra-long distances for business jets. The business jet having 8 passengers and 4 crewmen on board made a flight from Chicago to Paris (6,500 km) in 7 hours and 15 minutes.
From the late 2004 to the first quarter of the current year about 40 Global Express XRSs and the same number of Global 5000s were put on the market, and a queue for them stretched into 2011. Obviously, Bombardier Aerospace is planning to continue increasing productivity, but, alas, some wishes can’t be granted. In aircraft building when the annual rate of growth is only a few per cent it’s regarded as a significant achievement; when it is 15–20 per cent it’s considered to be almost fantastic. But the market is expecting the business jet industry leader to take decisions of a leader, and the Global family might crowd less marketable models out of factory ways.