Bombardier assembly of first Global 7000 business jet nears finish, sales pushed back until 2018

Bombardier Business Aircraft is moving toward completion of its first Global 7000 flight test aircraft -- and the first flight of its large-cabin, long-range business jet. The Canadian parent of Learjet in Wichita said it has mounted the engines on FTV1, or flight test vehicle 1, and has joined all the major structures of the airplane. That includes the fuselage, wings, landing gear and vertical and horizontal stabilizers. The Global 7000 and 8000 are Bombardier's newest business jets. They also will be the biggest. The 7000 is expected to have capacity for 17 passengers in standard configuration, and a range of 7,300 nautical miles. The 8000 will seat 13 in standard configuration and have a range of 7,900 nautical miles. Those jets, along with the CSeries CS100 and CS300 airliners, are the remaining new aircraft development programs at Bombardier.

In January, the company paused the development of the Learjet 85 midsize business jet, resulting in the layoff of 620 Learjet workers in Wichita and 380 others in Mexico, and a pretax charge of $1.4 billion. The Global series of jets are Bombardier's largest business aircraft while Learjet is the smallest. In July, as part of the company's second-quarter 2015 earnings release, Bombardier announced it would push back by nearly two years the entry into service of the Global 7000, to the second half of 2018.

A Bombardier Business Aircraft spokeswoman declined to say when the first Global 7000 flight test jet is expected to make its first flight, citing competitive reasons. The company said it has three other Global flight test aircraft in various stages of production. It's likely that one or more of the Global flight test aircraft will make a Wichita appearance. In addition to building Learjets in Wichita, Bombardier also operates a flight test center at its facilities on the west side of Wichita Eisenhower National Airport. Its Wichita service center also recently expanded its aircraft maintenance and repair offerings to include service on Bombardier Challenger and Global jets, both of which are assembled and completed at Bombardier factories in Canada.

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