After launching the Global 7000 and 8000 ultra-long-range business jet programs in September 2010, Bombardier expects to fly the first Global 7000 flight-test vehicle (FTV) next year. This timeline supports the goal of Global 7000 entry into service in 2016, followed a year later by the Global 8000.
The first Global 7000 FTV is under construction, at both Bombardier and supplier facilities. Bombardier's plant in Querétaro, Mexico, is building the rear fuselage and the company's facility in St.-Laurent, Canada is manufacturing the cockpit. In Méaulte, France, Aerolia is assembling the first center fuselage, while the wings are under construction at Triumph Aerostructures in Red Oak, Texas.
Design of the Global 7000 is progressing, according to a Bombardier spokeswoman. "Our product development team and our suppliers are making progress, as planned, with the majority of the production drawings already released. The Global 7000/8000 program has started the transition from the detailed design phase to the product-definition release phase."
Bombardier declined to say how many FTVs it plans to build. "The experimental and ground test teams are progressing on the design and build of the various ground test rigs that will be used throughout the development and certification of the aircraft," said the spokeswoman.
Bombardier and supplier teams are co-located at Bombardier's Product Development Centre in Montréal. Final assembly will take place at Bombardier's Toronto facility, where assembly tooling and equipment is being prepared for the program.
The fly-by-wire Global 7000 and 8000 share the same 16,500-pound-thrust GE Passport 20 engine, which is on schedule for certification in 2015. The Global 7000 is the larger of the two jets and will offer range of 7,300 nm (10 passengers, four crew, Mach 0.85). The shorter Global 8000 will fly 7,900 nm under the same parameters, except with eight passengers.
The Rockwell Pro Line Fusion-based Bombardier Vision flight deck will feature control sticks instead of yokes. However, Bombardier will not say whether the sticks will be tied together electronically, as they will be in Gulfstream's new G500 and G600, or move independently like the typical Airbus configuration.
Labor unions that oppose Norwegian Air Shuttle's effort to gain a foreign air carrier permit for its Irish subsidiary to fly to the U.S. have garnered support from the U.S. Congress. A bipartisan group of 188 members of the House has asked the Department of Transportation (DOT) to deny the application.
In a letter to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, dated November 24, the lawmakers state that Norwegian's application is not in the public interest "and would unfairly put domestic airlines at a competitive disadvantage." They "reiterate our belief" that Norwegian's planned business model would violate the U.S.-European Union Open Skies Agreement. Fifty-six Republicans signed the letter.
Last December, Norwegian applied for both a foreign air carrier permit and an exemption for its Norwegian Air International (NAI) subsidiary to conduct scheduled and charter operations to and from the United States. The DOT on September 2 dismissed the exemption, which would have allowed NAI to operate while the department reviewed the permit application. That application is pending.
Unions, which along with several major U.S. and European carriers oppose the application, charge that the airline seeks to evade Norwegian and international labor laws and pay pilots less by establishing NAI as an Irish airline. "NAI's business plan, which involves basing in Ireland despite no plans to fly in or out of that country, and hiring workers based in Bangkok through a Singaporean hiring agency, all to avoid Norway's strong labor protections, tax laws and regulations, is a clear violation" of the Open Skies agreement, the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO, said in a statement announcing the congressional support.
Norwegian Air Shuttle CEO Bjørn Kjos, addressing the International Aviation Club in Washington, D.C., on November 20, said opponents are attempting to block competition from the low-fare carrier. "The big network airlines and their unions are spending millions of dollars on slanderous campaigns and lobbying," Kjos said, according to a transcript. NAI "is planning to have the same set-up as its parent company, Norwegian Air Shuttle, which is operating flights to and from the U.S. today: the same airplanes, the same pilots, all of them with European licenses, the same cabin crew-most of them Americans-and the same destinations." The airline's application for a foreign air carrier permit "is in full accordance" with the U.S.-EU Open Skies Agreement, he argued.
The war of words coincided with a special meeting the joint committee that oversees the Open Skies agreement held in Washington, D.C., on November 25. Olivier Onidi, the European Commission's acting director of Mobility and Transport, requested the meeting to discuss the NAI permit application and the DOT's restrictions on wet leasing of aircraft and crew by EU carriers for international operations, according to a State Department official. The committee did not issue a statement after the meeting.
No consumer likes a surprise on the bill, unless, of course, it's the rare happy surprise. But lots of companies seem to consider inflated invoices integral to the business plan. As we all know from too much experience, the ploy works like this: hook the customer with a low advertised price, then hit him with extra charges*.
Business jet travelers' bills sometimes come loaded with surprises, at least for those who haven't perused all the fine print. If you're a charter customer, for example, even the basic flight charges can be difficult to predict: in addition to a per-hour fee for time in the air, there's a price for taxiing, and some operators also impose minimum flight times, daily minimums or premiums for international or overnight routes. In addition, you can be charged fees for positioning, de-icing and catering, plus federal excise tax, segment and fuel surcharges and an assortment of other add-ons.
Oh, and while payment of all these fees will get you up in the air and to your destination, it won't cover landing. If you'd like to actually return to the ground at the end of your flight, you'll likely have to pay a charge for that, too.
Despite all of this, charter invoices are a model of simplicity compared with what many fractional-share buyers face. You could almost finish a Tolstoy novel in the time in takes to wade through some fractional contracts-and if you do read yours, you'll find that acquiring a fractional share involves a lot more than simply deciding what portion of what aircraft you want and paying for it. In addition to the purchase price, there's an hourly operational fee, plus charges to cover such things as fuel stops and peak travel days. Yet another substantial cost consists not of an amount you pay but of an amount you don't receive when you sell, to account for depreciation.
You know the old acronym KISS, for Keep It Simple Stupid? As it happens, it was coined by someone in the aviation field-Kelly Johnson, a renowned engineer at Lockheed Martin. I suspect some people in bizav could have benefitted from his advice.
Now, finally, it seems that some of them are getting the point, as we might be witnessing the beginning of a shift toward simpler billing for private aviation services. Many jet cards, for example, tout all-inclusive pricing, with locked-in rates, no fuel surcharges and no interchange fees for using an aircraft model other than the one specified in your contract.
The latest trend may be to do away with per-flight charges altogether. As columnist James Wynbrandt noted in BJT last August, California-based Surf Air now offers an all-you-can-fly membership deal that lets you take as many trips as you want for a flat monthly fee (plus a nominal one-time membership charge).
So while private jet travel will never be as inexpensive as taking a bus, paying for it may one day be nearly as simple. And that's good news. Low come-on prices can seem great initially but the thrill can end abruptly with the arrival of a much higher final bill.
*The funeral industry has at times been a prime example of this approach. For a good laugh, check out the six-minute video of "$65 Funeral," a classic Nichols & May comedy sketch on the subject.
West Star Aviation has been appointed a holder of an organization designation authorization (ODA) by the FAA. The ODA allows West Star to manage its own certification projects and determine compliance with the FAA procedures and guidelines. The authorization will simplify certifications of STCs and PMAs for West Star. "The ODA is a huge added value for our customers," said Samuel Haycraft, executive vice president/founding partner of West Star Aviation. "The ability to manage and determine our compliance will make us even more efficient and better able to meet our customers' needs," he said.