Article by Natasha McKenty, Skies Magazine, April 15th, 2021. Reprinted by permission.
In early March 2021, YYA Management Ltd. took delivery of the world’s largest purpose-built business jet, the Bombardier Global 7500. The company’s director of aviation and chief pilot, David Seneshen, said the choice was easy: “Bombardier was the only company offering the next caliber of aircraft beyond what we already had.”
The management company operates aircraft based in the Middle East, and caters to elite business aviation travel. The addition of the Global 7500 was part of an ambition to bring this white-glove experience to a whole new level.
YYA has a roster of highly-skilled pilots to do the job, including a cadre of former Royal Canadian Air Force pilots. The aviation management company built its reputation by hiring retired military pilots; aviators you’d trust letting your family fly with, even in an emergency situation.
There are 12 pilots at YYA, including Seneshen — himself an ex-RCAF pilot and FSI (Flight Safety International) G650 Master Aviator, as is Rodney Ermen, the Global 7500 lead pilot. Warren Wright (Whiskey) and Des Brophy complete the M-NSTR pilot roster.
“In March we are back up to three jets with our Global 7500 coming online,” said Seneshen. “To go along with the [Gulfstream] 650, M-USIK, and Lear 60XR, M-INNI, we debut our Global 7500, M-NSTR.”
Seneshen likes to have fun with registrations. “The 7500 is the biggest [business jet] there is, and [M-NSTR] was available, so we bought it. The name was held for the past six years while waiting for the aircraft to come online.”
“We are registered in the Isle of Man . . . they don’t have numbers in their registration, so we can choose suitable words that start with an ‘M.’”
After taking delivery of the aircraft, the team did their best not to chuckle as they checked in on frequency, Seneshen said.
“The Global 7500 is not something you often hear in the sky yet . . . . and to check in as ‘Global-7-Monster’ is just the icing on the cake,” he laughed.
As an aircraft management company, YYA considers itself to be “on the cutting edge of what’s new and what’s capable.” In the past, the management company has operated a number of business aircraft, including several Challenger 604s, a Cessna Citation CJ3, a Challenger 300, and a Global Express XRS — prior to its current Lear 60XR and G650.
Bombardier’s flagship aircraft, the Global 7500, is a game changer. Compared to its competitors, Gulfstream and Dassault, it has larger overall dimensions, has the largest cabin by volume, and has the longest range.
The Global 7500 exceeded expectations, and YYA didn’t hesitate to be one of the first to order the aircraft back when it was “still on the drawing board.”
Formerly launched as the Global 7000 in 2010, Bombardier flew the aircraft for the first time in November 2016. But thanks to a newly designed transonic wing that increased the aircraft’s range by more than 300 nautical miles, it was re-named the Global 7500 a few years later. The first aircraft was delivered in December 2018 after a two-year delay in the program.
Type certification for the Global 7500 was first achieved in Canada in September 2018, followed by FAA approval in November 2018. In March 2021, Bombardier delivered its 50th Global 7500. The 50th delivery of the milestone aircraft follows a successful 2020, where Bombardier delivered 35 of the aircraft, including a record 16 deliveries in Q4.
Customization of the Global 7500 offers four separate living spaces, allowing up to 19 passengers to forget they’re even on a plane. The jet’s unsurpassed 7,700-nautical-mile range, with speeds up to Mach 0.925, easily allows non-stop flights from cities like New York to Hong Kong. Two 18,920-lb-thrust GE Passport engines offer an “eight percent improvement in fuel consumption” compared to similar aircraft.
Rodney Ermen has 30 years of experience flying Bombardier aircraft, 16 years of which were flying with YYA Management: Challenger 600 and 604s, the Global Express, and now the Global 7500. “It is interesting to see the progression that Bombardier has made over the years; the interior, the avionics, and the systems,” said Ermen. “And they have it 99 percent nailed. The automation is amazing; it’s the most automated business jet out there. It definitely beats the competition, and that’s coming from someone who has flown the competitor’s aircraft. It truly is a remarkable aircraft.”
Flying In Style
The addition of M-NSTR to YYA’s fleet has brought a yacht-like experience to the company’s brand of business (or leisure) travel. The extra zone, which in YYA’s case is the bedroom, means an added nine-foot zone of living space. “We already have 18 feet [length] in the first of three cabins. It is simply elegant and spacious,” said Seneshen.
The four living zones (plus a dedicated crew-rest area) is unique to the Global 7500. Zones can be configured for either seating or sleeping quarters, and can ideally serve as entertainment space for kids and families. A bedroom and a full washroom with a shower, “unique to our configuration,” are located nearest the engines, although you would never know it; the entire aircraft is extremely quiet.
It’s a very smooth ride, thanks to the new “Smooth Flex Wing” design. Seneshen compares it to the likes of Boeing’s Dreamliner. “You have a lot of flex on the wing, which greatly dampens the ride. The ride is significantly quieter and smoother in turbulence than what we are used to.”
He added: “The very first day flying, we were in quite a lot of turbulence, and we were watching the wings flex. It was very surprising the extent these wings will flex. We’ve flown other very rigid wings, and the ride was quite unforgiving. You have a lot of the pounding through turbulence with a hard, rigid wing, whereas this design mitigates the feeling of turbulence inside the plane.”
Travelers can avoid the headache of dragging luggage onto the plane, too. The master bedroom is outfitted with nine feet of bedroom storage; six feet of dresser drawers; and three feet of full-height wardrobe.
“We’ve repeated our layout from our other aircraft,” said Seneshen. “The ambiance is very chic; mirroring that of a yacht or the highest-end hotel room.”
Skies was invited for an exclusive first look at the aircraft during “shakedown” flights across Canada that departed from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport (YYZ) on the morning of March 12.
Aboard the aircraft for the cross-Canada flight were four YYA pilots who are assigned to fly the Global 7500, the company’s lead flight attendant, Alyson Griffiths, plus a pilot and technical representative from Bombardier.
Over the following two days, the aircraft made stops in Winnipeg (YWG), Calgary (YYC), Kelowna (YLW), Victoria (YYJ), Abbotsford (YXX), and Kitchener-Waterloo (YKF). “We want to put as many cycles as possible on the aircraft before taking it over to the Middle East,” said Seneshen. “If there are going to be any issues with the aircraft, this is where we want to discover them, near to the factory, not when we are overseas in operation. It is a brand-new aircraft type and snags are to be expected.”
Somewhere between Alberta and Ontario, Seneshen is comfortably seated in the left seat at M-NSTR’s controls, beaming with pride during a mid-flight interview — flying at FL 450 (with a cabin altitude of 4,500 ft) and a speed of Mach .90. This is in stark contrast to the 145 knots the plane was gingerly flying at the previous day, during an air-to-air photo shoot.
The Global 7500 is the quietest cockpit Seneshen has ever flown. “We can whisper with our headsets off,” he laughed. And the performance of the plane is remarkable. “The green airplane,” as Seneshen refers to it, is “powerful and reliable, right out of the box.”
According to the chief pilot, takeoff offers “a gratifying amount of thrust.” The aircraft is “pushing almost 19,000 pounds of thrust each side — the highest in a business jet to date.
“You really have to hang on to your hat because there’s a phenomenal amount of thrust. There’s no feeling of power degradation either. The thrust you feel on the runway just continues through the climb,” he said.
Bigger and Better
In the past year, the team at YYA “haven’t stopped flying.” The mission profiles haven’t changed much, despite the pandemic. With the addition of the Global 7500 to the fleet, the company will have the ability to fly distances up to 17 hours: “Vancouver to Maldives, Los Angeles to Dubai, or Montreal to Seychelles.”
The luxury of the custom design of this plane — with living and sleeping zones, a galley and eating zone, along with unrestricted access to the massive luggage compartment — means you can literally “show up with just a briefcase.”
Seneshen said “as a VVIP, you want to walk to the plane without any luggage, go anywhere in the world, and get there clean and refreshed.”
And for the chief pilot, the Global 7500 was a long time coming.
“Negotiations started way back in 2013.” A few delays due to OEM design changes, plus the pandemic, meant YYA had to be patient. But these “growing pains and delays are quickly forgotten” when the delivery of the “completed deluxe airplane” finally came.
The aircraft’s capability was a major selling feature. It’s “bigger and better” in every way. “I mean, it’s 12 ft longer and five ft wider than our G650,” Seneshen said.
“Typically, business jets have constrained themselves to within a 100-foot footprint, both length and wingspan, and a 100,000-lb weight restriction because of ramp limitations. So, this is the first purpose-built business jet outside that box,” he added. Although the Global 7500’s 104-ft wingspan and max weight are a potential setback, YYA has the ability to “operate within the parameters” of all its usual airports and aprons.
While YYA’s Gulfstream G650 is “a brilliant machine,” according to Seneshen, the Global 7500 exceeds it in gross weight and capability. “It has tremendous power while staying graceful. The Collins FMS [flight management system] is exceptionally well laid out and leads you by the hand, and the Vision Flight Deck is refreshingly consistent with industry color protocols.”
Flying 12- to 17-hour legs, he admitted, can be “fatiguing.” But the Global 7500 is the least fatiguing cockpit he’s ever flown — thanks to a “combination of outstanding low cabin altitude, excellent climate control, foot heaters, and a massive cockpit noise reduction over the competition. It’s simply a well-designed, spacious, and friendly cockpit.”
“We’ve had no big issues with the aircraft yet; the green airplane has just been rock solid,” he said. (“Green” refers to the aircraft off the assembly line prior to any interior being installed.) “As far as the interior completion, we have been very impressed by almost every feature: tables, seats, their berthing, electric doors, electric divans, shower, etc. What has let us down? The galley hot water and sink unfortunately is a failure; so far, anyway. They obviously didn’t ask for any customer involvement here, as there is a terribly short hot water duration and small sink size. I mean, we have a shower with unlimited hot water, so why not the galley? I expect this to be fixed quickly with customer feedback.”
According to the plane’s OEM, standard equipment on the Global 7500 includes Bombardier’s l’Opéra audio system, Nice Touch Cabin Management System, Soleil Lighting System, and Pũr Air system, which features a huge, high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. M-NSTR also boasts a one-of-a-kind, custom-built entertainment system.
The flight deck is the most spacious for a business aircraft, including a vast amount of storage space. It includes the latest version of Rockwell Collins’ Pro Line Fusion system that is branded as Bombardier’s Vision Flight Deck. It features advanced fly-by-wire technology with side-stick controls that was brought over from the C Series (now Airbus A220).
“The automation and fly-by-wire aspect of the 7500 is phenomenal,” said Ermen, who now has more than 20 hours of flight time on the aircraft since the company took delivery in March. “It is a very intuitive plane to fly with a side-stick. After 20 seconds, you don’t even realize that you are flying a stick versus a yoke. You adapt very quickly.”
The flight deck also includes a head-up display (HUD), with enhanced vision system and synthetic vision system. Ermen says he hopes that approvals for the combined visual system (CVS) — the first of its kind designed specifically for a business jet — are near. “Right now, you can only use one or the other with the HUD, but not both at the same time as we have to toggle back and forth between the two.” The CVS will help to reduce pilot workload and increase safety.
Seneshen says the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) were crucial both in YYA’s decision to select the Global 7500, and the collaboration of concepts and companies for its completion.
“These tradeshows are absolutely essential for the industry to grow and for aircraft like this to be completed to the highest level,” he said. “Meeting with OEMs, vendors, interior designers, and other operators… finding out what is new out there and building on those ideas and relationships is what really completed this aircraft.” The last four planes that YYA purchased were greatly influenced by personal relationships built at industry tradeshows.
Seneshen described working with Bombardier on the completion as “rewarding,” adding that “the guys we worked with [at Bombardier] were really great.” He said several Bombardier aircraft completion managers have become “lifelong friends” of his through the process.
“We spend almost one year working very closely toward the same goal in the completion-design and installation, so we really have to get along well.”
The metallic-style paint scheme on the Global 7500 is “unique,” so that particular job was completed by experts at Ruag in Munich, Germany. “It’s actually called ‘mica,’ which is a metallic effect without having metal in the paint. It is a long and specialized process.”
The sound system is “epic!” said Seneshen, who describes himself as an audiophile. “It’s like a THX cinematic sound system in every cabin. . . . It is really eye-watering.”
Much of the aircraft customization was completed in Austria by F/List. “They manufactured all the veneers, quartz backlit counters, quartz heated floors, and aft lav — including the shower. They did an amazing job and were delightful to work with,” added Seneshen. “Their product is deluxe workmanship, absolutely. From the owner to the craftsmen on the floor, they all were very engaging and excited for this project.”
An Effortless Machine
As the shakedown flights concluded, Seneshen said the last few days went extremely well. The “list of snags” only “filled half a page,” which he described as “rather remarkable.”
Before making its flight overseas to enter service, M-NSTR made a stop in Hartford, Connecticut — where one of Bombardier’s service centers is located — so the small list of snags could be addressed.
After nearly eight years of working on and anticipating the delivery of the newest addition to the YYA fleet, Seneshen jested that he’s looking forward to putting his feet up and learning how to fly again.