Bombardier revamps its Challenger
By The Montreal Gazette
Oct. 23, 2014, Orlando, Fla. - In Éric Martel’s view, Bombardier Inc.’s business jets remain the rabbit all the others must chase. In an interview from Orlando, where the world’s business aircraft industry is holding its annual convention, the president of Bombardier Business Aircraft said that that despite big plans by Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. and Embraer SA to accelerate their private-jet offerings, Bombardier will do whatever it must to maintain its leadership position.
By The Montreal Gazette
“We’re leaders, so people are gunning for us, either to imitate us or to play catch-up to us,” Martel said ahead of the exhibition’s first day Tuesday.
“So it’s up to us to be more vigilant to ensure our leadership strategy works.”
Bombardier announced its was revamping its Challenger 605, to be called Challenger 650. NetJets, a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway investment empire, switched a previous order it had placed for 25 Challenger 605s into 25 Challenger 650s.
Martel said that the 650 will have more advanced avionics — electronics that manage an airplane’s various systems — slightly more powerful engines and a completely redesigned interior.
The strides rivals are making to challenge Bombardier in various sectors — the mid-size and large cabin segment being the most important and profitable — are not worrisome, Martel insisted.
Gulfstream recently announced it would launch its G500 and G600, which will rival Bombardier’s Global 5000 and Global 6000.
Martel said that even through his competitors’ new aircraft are brand new designs and come years after the Global jets, they still have less range than the Globals — about 5,200 nautical miles.
But Steve Cass, Gulfstream vice-president for technical marketing and communications, said from Orlando that “we really focused on what our customers asked.”
“And the G500 and G600 will offer capabilities that are not found anywhere in the industry” — notably speed. The two aircraft will fly at 90 per cent of the speed of sound, Cass said, which no other private jet can achieve — with the exception of Gulfstream’s own ultra-long range G650.
“That’s very important to our customers,” Cass said.
Martel said that the two competing models are due out only in 2017 and 2018,” which will give us time to consolidate our leadership position and improve our Global 5000s and 6000s.”
Bombardier has also been developing its own Global 7000 and 8000, which will have the longest range of any private jets in the world.
But Cass said that his firm already has 85 G650s in service — the closest rival to the 7000 and 8000, which are due for delivery in 2016 and 2017.