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Wed, Jun 07, 2006

You Go, Girl!

Oprah Buys Global Express

Oprah Winfrey has a new jet -- a Bombardier Global Express XRS. The long-range, plus-sized bizjet will be able to take the TV personality anywhere she needs to go -- even on her usual working commute, from her home in California to her sound stage in Chicago.

The star is spending over $40 million for the sleek 10-pax plane, which is expected to be delivered soon. She ordered it last year. The exact amount is reported variously by various news services; high-end jets like the Global Express tend to have customized interiors, and the Global Express tends to cluster around $45.5 million apiece.

Winfrey's plane is reported to seat up to 10 and have a full-width stateroom in the back. It is actually being purchased by her production company, Harpo (Oprah backwards, get it?)

Of course, Aero-News readers know that Oprah might get the stateroom, but not the best seats in the house. Those are behind the Honeywell Primus 2000XP avionics suite and standard heads-up displays. The Bombardier 2nd generation Enhanced Vision System lets the crew see through darkness and fog. Avionics and communications are state of the art.

The aircraft can cruise as high as Mach 0.89 although backing off to 0.85 lets you increase range to 6,150NM with NBAA IFR reserves. One of the many small improvements in the XRS over earlier Global Expresses is an improved fueling system that shaves 15 minutes off the time it takes to fill those big tanks. After all, it's not good to keep Ms. Big waiting.

Inflight speed is enhanced by the ability to take that Mach number up high; the Global Express XRS is certified to 51,000 feet. As you might expect, the Global Express needs quite a lot of runway; it can get by with a balanced field length of 2,755 feet at sea level on a standard day, but at gross needs 6,190 feet.

Finally, we can reveal the secret of what XRS stands for: absolutely nothing. The letters give some marketing cachet and distinguish the XRS from the rest of Bombardier's Global line, but the company hasn't even coined a backronym to fit them. They're just letters.

Most of the news stories also mention other Global Express owners, including Steven Spielberg, Bill Gates, and "Cirque du Soleil owner Guy Laliberte" so we can trace this all back to one press release. At Aero-News we don't know if Gates owns a Global Express, but we do know how he and Melinda Gates frequently travel on charitable business, and we also know that they would prefer it not to be publicized. (We will respect that... let's just say it's often not a Global Express).

The public amazement over Winfrey's plane is slightly depressing to us at Aero-News. Of course busy, highly-compensated people can be more effective traveling by general aviation. You don't have to be at the Global Express level to benefit from the speed, safety convenience, comfort and privacy of GA.

But if you are, more power to ya. You go, girl!

FMI: www.bombardier.com

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