The certification flight test program for Bombardier’s flagship Global 7500 aircraft is winding down as type certification approaches. Here is a look behind the scenes at the innovative process that will yield a business jet like no other.
Mission accomplished for FTV1
On November 4, 2016, the inaugural flight test vehicle for what was then known as the Global 7000 aircraft took to the skies for the first time. Today, the aircraft dubbed “The Performer” has officially completed all of its flight testing, and is going into retirement.
It’s a significant milestone for a flight test program that has captured the imagination of an entire industry – and of aviation buffs around the world. With the clean-sheet Global 7500 aircraft, Bombardier has designed and developed the world’s largest business jet, pledging to redefine business aviation.
Since that first flight nearly two years ago, four other FTVs have joined the flight validation program, accumulating more than 2,700 flight hours between them.
Ready for its close-up
Retirement from flight testing doesn’t mean The Performer’s work is done. The aircraft has been spending time in Montreal for some well-deserved pampering in the paint shop of Bombardier’s state-of-the-art Global Completion Centre. The motivation behind FTV1’s sleek demo livery is two-fold: Part of its new mandate will be to appear at local and company events ahead of the first production Global 7500 aircraft’s highly anticipated entry into service this year. But the exercise also served as a dress rehearsal for the paint shop, which was expanded to welcome a business jet of this unprecedented size and is now ready for the arrival of the first customer aircraft.
The customer experience
Another of FTV1’s post-retirement tasks is to help Bombardier’s Customer Experience team ensure the aircraft is delivered to customers exactly as advertised – down to the location of every bolt listed in the final technical publications. The aircraft is being used to validate all instruction manuals and procedural guidelines so that operators, pilots and technicians have an onboarding process that is as smooth as the ride passengers will soon enjoy.
Final phase of flight testing
As for the rest of the FTVs, they are wrapping up the final testing to certify the Global 7500 aircraft. The flight test program has been what our engineers describe as happily predictable. The FTVs performed largely as expected – except in the cases where they outperformed. A few months ago, Bombardier announced an extended range of 7,700 nautical miles for the aircraft, a full 300 nautical miles further than initial commitments, along with improved takeoff and landing distances. These results not only demonstrate how well-engineered this aircraft is, they also validate Bombardier’s decision to invest in innovative and industry-leading ground testing, combined with proven engineering tools and simulation, allowing for a very mature aircraft at the flight test phase.
Fun fact: Flight testing necessitates deployment around the world to make sure the aircraft responds as expected to extreme atmospheric conditions (such as bitterly cold weather). Often, flight test programs use up a lot of time “chasing” extreme weather across the globe. For the Global 7500 program, some excellent planning combined with the maturity of the flight test vehicles allowed Bombardier to save considerable time. Fortune then favoured the well-prepared, as the reliable FTVs were at the right time and place for the weather they needed.
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