Bombardier has unveiled its new Global 8000 business jet, touting it as the fastest way for an executive to travel through the skies. More than that, this plane cruises faster than any commercial airliner you can board today. It’s basically the fastest passenger plane since the Concorde. Damn.
On Monday, Bombardier announced the next generation Global 8000. Already an aircraft known for its sheer speed, Bombardier somehow managed to squeeze even more knots out of the latest version. But Bombardier sort of buried the lede here, because it appears that this plane is the fastest civil jet in production today.
Figuring out the fastest plane is actually a difficult exercise. You’ll find a number of speeds listed on an aircraft’s spec sheet: cruising speed, maneuvering speed, flap speed and more. For the purposes of this conversation, I’m focusing on the Maximum Mach Operating speed (MMO), the fastest an aircraft can go before triggering an overspeed alarm in the cockpit.
(It’s not easy to convert Mach into MPH, because Mach speed changes with altitude. Theoretically, a plane flying Mach 1.00 exactly at sea level would be traveling 762 mph over the ground; at an altitude of 40,000 feet, Mach 1.00 equates to 660 mph. To avoid confusion, we will speak in terms of Mach, not MPH.)
Bombardier has been a prominent player in aviation for decades. If you’ve ever taken a short commercial flight, chances are it was on a Bombardier CRJ (Canadair Regional Jet) or QSeries turboprop.
More recently, some of these regional flights are flown by the Airbus A220, an aircraft better known as the Bombardier CSeries. Even the famous Learjet was built by Bombardier for three decades.
In recent years, Bombardier has pulled back a bit from these small passenger jets. The CRJ, CSeries and QSeries aircraft programs were all sold off. Even the famous Learjet has ended production. Instead, Bombardier has apparently decided to build hot-rod business jets.
The new Bombardier Global 8000 uses a new wing design and a pair of GE Passport turbofans producing 18,920 pounds of thrust. Thus equipped, the new jet achieves a top speed of Mach 0.94, or 94 percent of the speed of sound. At a typical cruising altitude of 43,000 feet, that’s equivalent to roughly 620 mph.
To put that into perspective, the fastest commercial airliner in the sky, the Boeing 747-400, tops out at Mach 0.92. Second place is a tie between the 747-800 and the latest Airbus A380 at Mach 0.90. Smaller aircraft like the Airbus A320 are even slower, with an MMO of Mach 0.82. As I said before, these are maximum “safe” speeds, and while a pilot could briefly exceed these numbers, doing so for too long will cause you some problems.
The Global 8000's normal cruise speed of Mach 0.85 isn’t record-breaking, but if the operator is willing to burn a bunch of fuel this thing can cruise at Mach 0.92. Bombardier buries this deep into its press release, but that top speed makes the new Global 8000 faster than any commercial airliner in production today. It even beats out the previous fastest business jet, the Cessna Citation X+, with a top speed of Mach 0.935.
It’s a good improvement over the last Global business jet, which topped out at Mach 0.925 with a high cruise of Mach 0.90. Another tidbit buried in the Global 8000 press release: Last May, Bombardier took a Global 7500 past the sound barrier, hitting Mach 1.015.
If you can keep your speed at a relatively sedate Mach 0.85 (normal cruise speed for the Global 8000) and limit yourself to 8 passengers, this new Bombardier can fly about 8,000 nautical miles before needing to refuel.
Bombardier expects to put these planes into the sky in 2025. The price for a plane faster than any other civil jet currently in production? A cool $78 million.