As Bombardier nears first flight of its Global 7000 large business jet, the company is making progress on the additional flight-test vehicles for the test program.

The aircraft is expected to make its maiden flight this year.

After a series of delays, the $72.8 million Global 7000 is a top priority for Bombardier, the company said.

“It’s a segment-defining aircraft,” Michel Ouellette, Bombardier SVP of the Global 7000/8000 program said recently at the company’s factory complex near Toronto’s Downsview airport.

The first flight-test vehicle moved from the assembly line to a dedicated hangar. The aircraft has achieved power on. Safety of flight testing and ground vibration testing has been completed, Ouellette reports.

On a recent day, the first test aircraft was on the ramp undergoing testing at the factory. Taxi testing is underway.

The aircraft is loaded from tip to tail with data recording, ballast tanks and ground test and flight-test equipment. “Functional test procedures are progressing well,” Ouellette said.

Delivery of the first Global 7000 is scheduled for the second half of 2018.

Eventually, the test program will move to Bombardier’s test center in Wichita.

The second and third test aircraft are on the assembly line inside the factory. The fourth aircraft has moved into position on the line.

Bombardier is employing a state-of-the-art automated position system that moves the wing structure, built by Triumph, into place for joining with the fuselage. The system uses laser-guided measuring to ensure the components are joined consistently and each time.

Two robots – dubbed Drillby and Drillbert – are used to drill and deburr most of the 3,000 holes needed to rivet and join sections with a tolerance of less than one-thousandth of an inch. The robots provide high-quality precision and are fast and predictable.

In addition to the robots, an automated movement system is in place to move the sections from one position on the line to another using weight sensors on rails.

The larger Global 8000 will undergo assembly on the same production line.

Completions will be done at Bombardier’s Global Completions Center in Montreal.

The Global 7000, introduced in 2010, has a four-zone cabin and will carry up to 12 passengers. It is powered by GE Aviation Passport engines and has a range of 7,400 nm and a top speed of 530 kt.