New long-range luxury jet from Bombardier set for first flight

Canada’s Bombardier expects the first flight of its new Global 7000 ultra-long-range business jet to take place in Toronto next month, a boost for the plane whose entry into service has been delayed two years.

The Canadian company will be hoping for a better result than with its current CSeries which only entered service this summer after years of delays.

The November test flight of the Global 7000 is expected to last longer than two hours, and would be a milestone for the new luxury jet (see video below). There is also a smaller Global 8000 in development that is expected to launch after the 7000.

David Coleal, the president of Bombardier Business Aircraft, said late last year the company, whose liquidity has come into question, had “enough resources and capital to get the programme done” and that the 7000 would enter service in the second half of 2018. He said the 7000 project was “the number one priority” for his division, which now has 2,000 employees assigned to it.

He alluded to Bombardier’s recent trials in developing the CSeries and cancellation of the Learjet 85, saying “we’ve overcome a few problems”.

Since inception of the two new Global programmes, the longer-range Global 8000 was originally scheduled to enter service a year after the larger 7000. But Michael Ouellette, the senior vice president in charge of the two new models, declined to comment on the 8000’s target service date.

The US$72.8 million Global 7000 is to have a maximum speed of 1,133kph and a 13,700km cruise range at 1,040kph with eight passengers and four crew member; Mr Ouellette said the aircraft “will meet its performance targets”. The smaller $69m Global 8000 is to have a range of 14,600km.

Bombardier has previously said the 7000 jet would make its first flight in 2016, but some investors and analysts remain sceptical because of delays. It was previously expected to enter service in 2016.

“Investors are concerned about another potential schedule slippage given low visibility on the first flight,” said the Macquarie analyst Konark Gupta.

Business jets have been especially important for Bombardier earnings in recent years, as the commercial aircraft business lost money and development of the CSeries jet loaded the company down with debt.

“All hands are on deck now to make this happen,” a source said of the Global 7000. “They want to avoid a lot of the delays that they had with the CSeries.”

Mark Masluch, a spokesman for Bombardier Business Aircraft, said Wednesday the Global 7000’s GE Passport engines were started on the test vehicle, but would not confirm a November test flight.

“We’re progressing very well to fly this year.”

* Reuters

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