Happy New Year: Bombardier to launch Gulfstream G650 rival

GlobalExpress_XRS_outline.JPGEvidence suggests Bombardier as soon as 1Q 2010 will launch a new flagship business jet, it’s longest range, fastest and most expensive to date.

The aircraft would compete head-on with Gulfstream’s new G650, designed to be the fastest (M0.925) and longest-range (7,000nm) purpose-built business jet to date.

Here’s why I think this will happen very soon,

 

In a fascinating article reported by Bloomberg today, Bombardier Aerospace Pierre Beaudoin said several things that made a little lightbulb go off in my head.

Beaudoin’s information, coupled with an offhand remark made to me during a recent trip to a vendor, points to Bombardier taking leap early next year.

Here are the key parts of the Beaudoin piece:

“Bombardier is considering building what would be its largest business jet to compete with a model from Gulfstream as order cancellations slow and growth picks up in Asia, said Beaudoin.”

- “Do we intend to leave space to the Gulfstream 650?” Beaudoin said in an interview at company headquarters in Montreal. “Absolutely not.”  NOTE: Even in the down economy, Gulfstream’s order book for the G650 is holding at more than 200 orders for the $60 million jet. We’ll get a better feel for how firm some of those are after first flight is completed later this year, when a  substantial progress payment will be due. 

- “There is a demand for a 7,000-nautical-mile jet that offers good speed and comfort on long distances,” the CEO said.

Below is a stack-up of how Bombardier’s current flagship, the Global Express XRS compares with the G650… 

Aircraft Range (nm) Max Speed (M) Engine Max Thrust (lb)
G650 7,000 0.925 BR725 16,100
Global XRS 6,150 0.85 BR710 14,750

 

- Beaudoin declined to say when a decision on the larger business jet would be made. (Analyst Richard) Aboulafia said a new Bombardier model probably wouldn’t be ready before 2017 at the earliest, giving Gulfstream a head start of five years.

 

Here’s the juicy part….

When visiting a GE engine component provider recently, I was told that Bombardier would announce the winner of a business jet engine competition in 1Q 2009, and that this particular provider was working with GE as part of a proposal to offer the new ”NG34″ engine for the program.

The NG34 is a modernized version of the CF34 engine that powers several Bombardier business jets and a huge number of Bombardier and Embraer regional jets,  The latest version of the engine, the CF34-10, generates up to 20,000lb of thrust, putting it in the ballpark for what would be needed to meet or exceed the G650′s speed. 

And, GE has said the NG34 would be ready for service in 2015, which would match Aboulafia’s 2017 entry-into-service guesstimate.

Given the thrust range needed to match or beat the G650′s, and taking the assumption that the aircraft will have just two engines, it would appear to be an engine supplier race limited to two entrants – Rolls-Royce and GE.

I’m just saying…

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