Dubai Air Show

Bombardier touts upgraded Challenger and Learjet

 - December 11, 2006, 9:23 AM

Bombardier is here promoting its newly launched Challenger 605 and Learjet 60XR business jets. The Canadian-based manufacturer sees a significant growth potential in the region, with for example an expected increase in the number of jets available through its Skyjet International fixed-price charter service program, executives said yesterday during a press conference here at the Dubai airshow.

“We have 16 Bombardier aircraft available for charter in the Middle East and we should have another 10 by the end of next year,” Judith Moreton, managing director of Skyjet International, said. The total number of Bombardier business jets flying in the region is close to 30, Bob Horner, vice president for sales in Europe, Middle East and Africa, told Aviation International News. Sales in Middle Eastern countries account for some 30 percent of those achieved by his team, the UAE and Saudi Arabia coming on top of the list. A Saudi was among the Learjet 40’s launch customers, Horner added.

During the same press conference, Horner announced the appointment of Khader Mattar, director of sales for Bombardier business aircraft in the region–a newly created position. In addition, Hans Apfel becomes the second full-time field service representative in the Middle East and will be based at Bombardier-Execujet here in Dubai. He is joining Stuart Smith who is based in Doha, Qatar.

Topping the list of manufacturers with news of new models, Bombardier Aerospace made two major announcements at the National Business Aviation Association convention in November, unveiling of the Challenger 605–a derivative that has the outward appearance of the Challenger 604, but that is upgraded inside, from the avionics suite to the aft lavatory and several points in between–and introducing the Learjet 60XR as a replacement for the original Model 60.

The only exterior difference in the Challenger 605 is at the tail, which was changed from a boat tail to a cone shape so it can be recognized on the ramp, said a Bombardier source. Inside, “if it was optional on the 604, it’s now standard on the 605,” said Scott Wight, manager of product planning for the Challenger programs.

The changes begin up front with a shift from the Collins Pro Line 4 to Pro Line 21 avionics, with a less cluttered instrument panel. On it, four 10- by 12-inch LCD screens replace six 6.25- by 7.25-inch CRT displays, increasing the overall display area by more than 55 percent.

One of the unique new features is a side console cockpit touch-screen that is electronic (Jeppesen) charts-capable and has Airshow and galley touch-screen backup for cabin lighting, telecommunications, water systems control and cabin entertainment.

The console also allows for optional electronic flight book software, with printing capabilities and weather graphics. With Jeppesen charts on the side console and MFD, the 605 will be paperless-capable (with FSDO approval) in its baseline configuration.

With the expectation that most 605 pilots will be transitioning from the 604, Bombardier tried to maintain a high degree of continuity, despite the improvements. Transition to the 605 cockpit will likely require no more than a three-day course. The company has not yet decided if additional simulator training will be necessary.

Upgrades To the Learjet 60

Bombardier Aerospace president and COO Pierre Beaudoin reported that Flexjet, the company’s fractional ownership provider, had already placed an order for 15 Learjet 60XRs. By the time the model enters service with a corporate owner, he noted, “it will have accumulated thousands of grueling hours in fractional service,” proving its value and reliability.

The 60XR represents a considerable upgrade of the Learjet 60 in terms of avionics, with Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 replacing the Pro Line 4 suite. A new panel layout features four 10- by 8-inch LCD screens in place of the older 7- by 6-inch CRTs, providing a 75-percent overall increase in display area.

New in the Pro Line 21 baseline equipment is a single central maintenance system and file server unit allowing MFD display of Jeppesen charts. Upgrades to the baseline equipment include dual AHRS, EFIS/EIS display, dual FMS and radio management/tuning.

New options in the $12.5 million Learjet 60XR avionics suite include EFIS enhanced map overlays that superimpose geopolitical boundaries, airways and airspace symbology on MFD maps. Other new options include XM graphical weather display, Universal Weather, a second file server unit and 3-D FMS maps.

While the avionics upgrade results in a savings of about 60 pounds, a Bombardier source said changes in the cabin are expected to “gobble that up.”

The traditional cabin lighting is being changed to an all-LED system, which has the advantage of lower maintenance, less power consumption, less weight and a life expectancy nearly that of the airplane itself, Bombardier said.

The cabin options are considerable, not the least of which is an Airshow 4000 network package and Iridium satellite phone. Also among the cabin options are a 15.1-inch forward video monitor and 14.4-inch video monitor; cabin video system, single or dual DVD; passenger audio/video inputs; XM radio; 220-volt power system; warming oven or microwave; dual hot liquid containers; and crystal, china and flatware galley cabinet inserts.