George Tsopeis, Zenith Jet’s vice president of aviation services and a former member of Bombardier’s business aircraft strategy and business development team, expects Bombardier to unveil a new ultra-long-range aircraft later this month at the NBAA Convention in Atlanta. Whether the new model is an upgraded version of the Global Express XRS or a new clean-sheet design will depend on how Bombardier perceives the competing ultra-long-range, wide-cabin Gulfstream G650, he told AIN.
“If Bombardier believes that the G650 was just Gulfstream’s response to the Global Express, then it’ll go for an upgraded XRS,” Tsopeis said. “However, if it thinks the G650 is a game-changing airplane in this segment, then it will launch [the] M170,” which he claims is Bombardier’s internal project code name for a clean-sheet, ultra-long-range business jet.
According to industry watchers, Bombardier is expected to choose the new model during a board meeting just before the NBAA Convention. If the board comes to a decision, the aircraft could be launched at the convention.
Tsopeis initially told AIN earlier last month that he thought Bombardier would opt for an upgraded XRS because of its lower program costs–$200 to $300 million versus more than $1 billion for a totally new design–and sooner 2013 entry-into-
However, recent indications convinced him that the Canadian manufacturer now views the competing G650 as creating a new market segment–the “super-ultra-long-range” business jet–in which the defining performance characteristic is 7,000-nm range at Mach 0.85 (long-range cruise), versus the XRS’s 6,150 nm and the Gulfstream G550’s 5,830 nm ranges, respectively at Mach .85. Whether the company chooses an upgrade or an all-new model, he predicts that Bombardier will use the same Rolls-Royce BR725 engine that powers the G650, “as it offers a low-risk program.”
Bombardier, he said, could very well keep the XRS–just like Gulfstream intends to keep making the G550–and position the “super” Global jet as a step-up product. Should Bombardier opt for the clean-sheet M170, the “super-ultra-long-range” twinjet wouldn’t enter service until at least 2016, giving the competing G650 a four-year head start.
And if Bombardier aims for a top speed above the Gulfstream G650’s Mach 0.925 for any such new jet, then a speed war could erupt between the two. At present, the Cessna Citation X is the fastest certified civil aircraft with a top speed of Mach 0.92. But the G650 is expected to take that crown later next year, and it could be a short-lived reign for Gulfstream if Bombardier sets a goal closer to the transonic edge.
Bombardier declined to comment on rumor or speculation.