FAA Tech Center Goes Global

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Both the FAA and Bombardier this month celebrated delivery of a brand-new Global 5000 bizjet to the agency's fleet at the William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City, N.J. The new long-range jet -- which was completed by St. Louis-based Midcoast Aviation with a unique interior designed for a wide range of future special-mission workstations -- will be used in the FAA's research and development program. Why does the FAA need a special-mission-configured Global 5000? Well, according to Bombardier, the jet will serve as an airborne research and development laboratory, utilizing its "exceptional payload capacity and endurance." Additionally, the company said, "the aircraft's cockpit systems and wing design are highly compatible with the wide range of leading-edge systems and technology that the agency routinely develop[s] and test[s]." In other words, and since "leading-edge technology" and "FAA" usually aren't used in the same sentence, the answer must be that the FAA didn't have one. Now, it does. The Global 5000's arrival brings to 11 the number of Bombardier aircraft in the FAA fleet, according to the company. This includes Challenger 604, Challenger 601 and Learjet 60 business jets. "The FAA now flies models from all three Bombardier business jet families, which clearly reflects its confidence in the superior quality and performance of our aircraft," said Derek Gilmour, vice-president, government and special mission aircraft sales, Bombardier Aerospace. Of course, that number does not include the agency's so-called "executive" fleet -- a Gulfstream GIV and two Cessna Citation Excels -- which are based at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, or other aircraft the agency uses around the world to perform routine tasks like airborne navaid testing and the like. Bombardier says the FAA's new Global was chosen, in part, for its multiple independent power sources and large cabin volume necessary to accommodate special research equipment. Other countries employing a Global 5000 in a special-mission configuration include Japan and Great Britain. To date, Bombardier has delivered 150 Global jets, including the 5000 model.