Bombardier’s dramatic unveiling of the Global 5500 and 6500 at EBACE profoundly reshapes what had seemed like a frozen competitive landscape in the market for super-large and long-range business jets.
Instead of having no answer to questions about a competitive response to the Gulfstream G500 and G600, Bombardier now has two reinvigorated product lines nearing a first delivery milestone, even as the Global 7000 approaches a long-awaited entry-into-service milestone later this year.
Boasting ranges of 5,700nm and 6,600nm, respectively, the Global 5500 and 6500 now exceed the promised range performance of each of their direct competitors, even after Gulfstream last October upgraded the range of the G500 to 6,200nm and the G600 to 6,500nm. Bombardier has also set the list price of its re-engined and re-winged models at a slight premium to Gulfstream’s clean-sheet aircraft designs, asking $46 million for the Global 5500 compared with $44.5 million for the G500, and $56 million for the Global 6500 compared with $55.5 million for the G600.
For now, Bombardier plans to continue building Global 5000s and 6000s on a common assembly line with the re-winged and re-engined models at the company’s Downsview factory outside Toronto. In a five-model portfolio of options, the 21-year old Global 5000 now offers a less ambitious stepping-stone for some buyers transitioning from Bombardier’s smaller Challenger series of business jets, a company spokesman says.
By introducing the Global 5500 and 6500 as upgrades, Bombardier still offers significant performance improvements while avoiding the cost and risk of a clean-sheet development programme.
The fuel burn for the new aircraft declines by 13% while the top speed increases by two basis points to Mach 0.90, Bombardier says. With an additional 1,000lb thrust provided by two Rolls-Royce Pearl 15 engines, the Global 5500 and 6500 gain an additional 1,300nm of range after taking off from a high-altitude airport in a warm climate, such as the 2,580m-high runway at Toluca International airport outside Mexico City, Bombardier says.
The newly certificated R-R engines achieve the rare feat of increasing thrust and reducing fuel burn, yet fit into the same aerodynamic installation as the BR.710 powerplants they replace. Neither the aft fuselage-mounted pylons and nacelles nor the engine mounts are altered for the Global 5500 and 6500, despite the addition of the more powerful and efficient Pearl 15 engines, Bombardier says. By keeping the aerodynamic profile unchanged, Bombardier reduces the impact of the re-engining on aircraft handling qualities and other certification requirements.
The Global 5500 and 6500 jets will both enter service with redesigned wings. The 35-degree leading-edge sweep of the original Global Express is unchanged, but Bombardier’s designers re-profiled the trailing edge. The change allows the aircraft to fly slightly faster than the previous limit of Mach 0.88 without a dramatic increase in drag, Bombardier says.
In the cockpit, pilots will experience the familiar layout of the Rockwell Collins ProLine Fusion-based Vision flight deck – with one extra feature. The Global 5500 and 6500 will become the first new business jets to feature a true combined vision system (CVS), with an infrared video image overlaid on a synthetic graphic. The current Vision flight deck offers both images on separate displays. As the US Federal Aviation Administration completes an ongoing rulemaking process, the CVS should eventually allow Global 5500 and 6500 operators to complete landings in weather conditions that would be prohibitive for other aircraft lacking such technology, Bombardier says.
Both new models also reflect a strategy to limit the cost and risk of a new development programme. Although the CSeries and Global 7000 featured fly-by-wire flight controls, the newer models will enter service with mechanical controls adapted only to handle the greater lift provided by the wing and the higher speeds offered by the engines. On the other hand, Bombardier has leveraged its investment in the Global 7000 by re-using several key features of the cabin interior, including the Nuage seat, in the Global 5500 and 6500, Bombardier says.