Ask any high-powered executive, and they’ll tell you: A private jet is not a show-off toy.
It’s a crucial business tool. Factoring in hectic skeds, a jet allows them to move efficiently to meetings on multiple continents in a single day. And they can conduct confidential in-flight meetings along the way.
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In other words, a business jet saves the company money. It protects its secrets from the prying eyes of random commercial travellers on an aptly named “airbus.”
Bombardier introduced its first Global 5500 long-range jet in June. With that, it launched an impressive salvo in the highly competitive quest to build the world’s best business aircraft. If anything, the Montreal-based company is living up to its reputation as an industry disruptor. And with this one, it has set a high new standard for competitors to match.
The Global 5500 is the gateway to Bombardier’s large-cabin Global family of business jets. The jet has a reported price tag of about US$45 million.
Its cabin is intricate and customizable, with room for up to 16 passengers in standard configuration. It has three distinct living spaces. On top of that, the jet features a functional kitchen and other best-in-class capabilities.
But the show-stoppers are its range and speed.
The Global 5500 can manage up to 5,900 nautical miles on a single leg. So that makes it possible to go non-stop from Los Angeles to Moscow, or Paris to Sao Paolo, Brazil.
With a top speed of Mach 0.9, the aircraft travels at just shy of the speed of sound. It has a typical cruise speed of Mach 0.85.
“This spacious and efficient aircraft is the ultimate business tool,” says David Coleal, president of Bombardier Aviation. “It has the range and access to safely take our customers where they need to be.”
At first glance, the Global 5500’s cabin seems similar to many business jets. You have plush seating, and ample meeting space The jet has a kitchen large enough to make gourmet meals.
But Bombardier really focuses on its patented, award-winning Nuage (French for “cloud”) recliner. They say it’s the first meaningful change in business aircraft seat design in 30 years.
Fine leather upholstery is a given. But the Nuage seat has several comfort touches that set it apart. That includes the industry’s only deep-recline feature. Sit back in comfort with a unique tilting headrest for optimal neck support. Also, there is a fully-floating base that makes it easy to track and swivel.
“We examined every conceivable passenger need and comfort that might arise while seated in flight. We launched our process from there,” says Peter Likoray, senior VP of sales at Bombardier.
“Nuage is an ergonomic and aesthetic masterpiece that redefines the very notion of seated comfort for life above the clouds.”
Business meets entertainment
The Global 5500 is purpose-built for business travel. There is ample meeting space that converts to a dining area. For getting work done, there is Ka-band internet access that provides videoconferencing. It provides fast download speeds. And that’s virtually anywhere in the world.
In the evenings, guests can catch up on their Netflix or HBO shows with a 4K-enabled entertainment system. That includes immersive surround sound. Plus it’s a system that easily works in personal electronic devices.
The in-cabin conference suite has a height-adjustable, single pedestal table. There is a credenza with storage, and an available Nuage chaise that cradles the body. It is ideal for business meetings. For longer flights, it also can convert to a bed.
Also, there is also a large en suite at the rear of the cabin with a large wardrobe. The lavatory provides plenty of natural light, a large mirror, vanity, sink and faucet.
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The aircraft’s twin Rolls-Royce Pearl engines means it has notable power. However Bombardier has invested heavily in making the Global 5500 flight experience as quiet as possible.
The cabin has sound-insulating partitions. It has other well-placed insulators to keep things quiet. Those are designed to create a tranquil, chill environment. Passengers can focus on whatever matters most.
Adding to the in-flight experience is the Bombardier air purification system. These days more people are focused on health and wellness. The manufacturer said it captures up to 99.99 per cent of air particles. And that includes viruses, allergens and bacteria, using a HEPA filter.
An activated carbon filter also removes volatile organic compounds, odours and gases. So you can breathe easier.
Head of the class
Bombardier has big plans for its Global family. Soon that will include the slightly-larger Global 6500. That jet received Canadian certification last year. Then there is the flagship 19-passenger Global 7500. That one can fly people non-stop from Detroit to Sydney, Australia.
In the meantime, the company continues to re-imagine its smaller Learjet line and its super-mid-size Challenger family.
Business jet manufacturers have a habit of one-upping each other. Usually it’s with subtle improvements that lay claim to best-in-class capabilities. So market-watchers should keep an eye open for those as well.
But there’s no doubt Bombardier has been a consistent disruptor and standard-setter. With that in mind, the Global 5500 will no doubt keep the rest of the industry on its toes.