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Bombardier brings new Global production site in Toronto fully online

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Bombardier on 1 May marked the opening of its new Global business jet production site at Toronto Pearson International airport, completing a transition started several years ago as part of a broader business restructuring.

The company in September 2023 started some Global manufacturing work at the new 770,000sq ft (71,535sq m) facility, which sits on 16.6ha (41 acres) of airport land leased from the Greater Toronto Airports Authority.

Only in March did the site become fully operational and fully staffed. Also in March, Bombardier stopped producing Globals at its former facility in the Downsview section of Toronto. All Global manufacturing – for the 5500, 6500 and 7500, and soon for the in-development 8000 – is now at Pearson.

Bombardier on 1 May hosted an event at the facility to mark its opening. Thousands of people, mostly employees and their families, were expected to attend.

“The facility opening here is a big milestone,” Bombardier chief executive Eric Martel said on 1 May. “We are building here, in this facility, the airplane that is the flagship for the industry.”

He was referring to Bombardier’s 7,700nm (14,260km)-range Global 7500, which is the company’s flagship, at least for now. Bombardier aims to have its 8,000nm-range Global 8000 in service next year.

The Toronto assembly building houses 20 work stations along two lines: one producing 7500s (and soon 8000s), and the other producing 5500s and 6500s. Next door, Bombardier has a separate, six-station flight-test hangar where it completes final work with fuelled aircraft.

Global 7500 fuselage Bombardier's Toronto Pearson production site

Bombardier declines to reveal production figures, though the company delivered 75 Global in 2023, according to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.

Bombardier had manufactured aircraft at the former Downsview site since acquiring De Havilland in 1992. It sold that facility in 2018 amid financial pressure brought on by its development of the CSeries (now Airbus A220) single-aisle passenger jet. Bombardier leased the Downsview site as it transferred production to Pearson, and flew its last Downsview-produced aircraft out of the now-decommissioned Downsview airport in March.

At the new Pearson site, Bombardier assembles Globals from large structural components produced internally and by suppliers. It produces all Global cockpits in Saint-Laurent near Mirabel, makes all Global rear fuselages in Queretaro in Mexico and manufacturers the 7500’s wings in Red Oak, Texas.

Bombardier sources 7500 fuselages from Airbus Atlantic Canada. MHI Canada produces wings and centre fuselages for 5500s and 6500s, and Spirit AeroSystems makes those types’ forward fuselages.

Bombardier uses robots at the Pearson site to secure major 7500 components. Each robot “drills, reams, installs sealant [and] installs a fastener – all in a cycle time of… under 30 seconds per fastener. Consistently. Every time,” says Bombardier director of operations Michael Murphy. Workers manually drill and fasten 5500 and 6500 structures.

Bombardier Global production site Toronto Pearson

After assembly, Bombardiers moves the jets outside for pre-flight work, including fuelling (from onsite tanks) and avionics tests. Workers perform engine tests in a “ground-run enclosure” equipped with deflectors capable of accommodating a 7500’s twin 18,000lb (80kN)-thrust GE Aerospace Passport turbofans at full power.

Bombardier flies Globals to Montreal for cabin completion work.

The Pearson site’s opening caps several years of transition for Bombardier. In addition to divesting CSeries to Airbus, it sold off its CRJ and Dash 8 commercial aircraft programmes, and its rail business to Alstom, leaving Bombardier purely a business jet manufacturer. Last week, Bombardier marked its transformation with a new logo and refreshed branding.

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