Paris Air Show

Bombardier, Gulfstream in bizjet speed showdown

 - December 13, 2006, 9:11 AM

Demonstrating that Boeing and Airbus aren’t the only bitter rivals in the aerospace schoolyard, Bombardier yesterday issued a public challenge to Gulfstream by proposing the two commit to the idea of holding a race.

Specifically, the Canadian business jet maker wants to pit its Global 5000 against the Gulfstream G450 in a real-world speed dash to prove once and for all whose airplane is fastest. A Bombardier official said Gulfstream could choose the time and place for the showdown, asking only that an official sanctioning body such as the National Aeronautic Association in the U.S. or the Federation Aéronautique Internationale officially preside over the face-off.

A very public row between Bombardier and Gulfstream touched off here this week when Bombardier claimed its Global 5000 long-range jet whipped the G450 in recent speed-record attempts by each company. The G5000 on Sunday flew to Le Bourget from Chicago’s Palwaukee Airport in a world-record time (pending official verification) of 7 hours 15 minutes. Three weeks ago, a G450 traveling to Geneva for the European Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition also attempted a speed record flight, this one from DuPage Airport west of Chicago to London Luton Airport, completing its sprint in 7 hours 19 minutes–four minutes longer than the Bombardier flight.

Bombardier claimed victory until Gulfstream officials pointed out that their own record attempt covered a distance that was 40 nm farther. With the question of whose intercontinental business jet is really fastest thrown into doubt, Bombardier chose to use the assembled media here at Le Bourget to publicly challenge Gulfstream to the modern-day equivalent of an Old West shootout.

And Gulfstream’s response? “Where I come from if someone wants to issue a challenge they do it face to face, not through the media,” said a Gulfstream spokesman late yesterday.

Whether someone from Bombardier will actually make the short walk across the Le Bourget flight line today to issue the challenge in person remains to be seen, but if you happen to be in the vicinity of any Gulfstream and Bombardier officials walking briskly toward each other, you might want to duck.