Dubai Air Show

Signs point to Bombardier response to Gulfstream G650

 - November 15, 2009, 6:37 AM

Bombardier is under commercial pressure to launch a new flagship business jet to rival the Gulfstream G650 as the world’s industry descends on what is the key event for the leading large-bizjet-buying region. With its significant range advantage, the G650 looks to be set to beat Bombardier’s leading model–the Global Express XRS– hands down when it enters service in 2012. The Gulfstream airplane has already attracted orders for more than 200 units and is expected to make its first flight before the end of this year.

Eager to react to rumors of an imminent launch, Bombardier CEO Pierre Beaudoin recently indicated that the company may launch a model to counter the G650, but did not indicate a timescale. Some believe it could be as soon as the first quarter of next year, if the company can keep its plans under wraps in Dubai this week. Beaudoin was speaking to reporters at a recent briefing at the company’s headquarters in Montreal, Canada, when he said he was adamant that Bombardier would definitely position itself to compete with Gulfstream.

Speaking to AIN at the Dubai Airshow, Bombardier regional v-p-sales for the Middle East and Africa, Khader Mattar, said, “It is not a brilliant time for new orders, but Bombardier is committed to investing in its aircraft.” While pointing to the new Signature cabin for the Learjet 60, the new Learjet 85 model, the extended-range Learjet 40XR, plus the new Global Vision flight deck for its larger aircraft, he also acknowledged that some customers just want the best. “Everybody wants the best deal, but at the same time they want the best facility and support,” Mattar added.

A comparison between the Global XRS and Gulfstream 650 shows why Bombardier might be concerned. The XRS, which entered service in 2006 and is based on a Global 5000 with additional wing-root fuel tanks, has a maximum range with eight passengers and four crew of 6,150 nm at Mach 0.85. The G650, due to enter service in 2012, is expected to offer a range of 7,000 nm, with the same number of passengers and crew. It is also expected to achieve a maximum operating Mach number of 0.925, which would ease out the Cessna Citation X as the fastest business jet, as well as the fastest operational civil airplane, since the Concorde no longer flies.

Bombardier has brought four aircraft to the Dubai show: an example of the Learjet 60 with the new Signature interior; a Challenger 605; a Challenger 850; and a Global Express. Mattar said its Global 5000 demonstrator is currently engaged elsewhere.