Bombardier is planning to establish a new Malaysian-based regional service centre to support the growing number of Challenger, Global Express and Learjet business aircraft which are entering service or are on order for Asian customers. In the longer term, it is also exploring the possibility of a regional fractional-ownership scheme.

A new maintenance base is needed in Malaysia, says the company, to supplement the Singapore-based Jet Aviation centre. "Whether we appoint someone, or do it through a joint venture, will be a decision we make in the next month," says Bombardier senior vice-president Peter Edwards.

The company claims to have received 26 new orders for business aircraft in the last 18 months from customers in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore and South Korea. Recently announced orders include five corporate-configured CRJs for for China United Airlines and two Challenger 604s for Singapore-based Global Aviation, due for delivery in 1998.

The growth in the Malaysian market has proved to be particularly strong, with more than ten Challenger and Learjet aircraft in local service and the first Global Express scheduled for delivery in 1999. "We've been asked by our customers to create a local capability," explains Edwards.

In addition, Bombardier is in the preliminary stages of examining a "variety of variations" on the fractional-ownership model for South-East Asia. Such a scheme faces challenges, including the relatively low numbers of aircraft in Asia, political and geographical boundaries and restrictions on free flight.

US competitor Gulfstream is also looking at the possibility of a regional fractional-ownership scheme. "In all probability, the next area we announce a programme for would be in the Asia-Pacific rim," says Gulfstream senior vice-president Joe Walker. The company claims to have delivered 46 aircraft into the region, while the Sultan of Brunei is believed to have ordered Gulfstream Vs.

Source: Flight International