Bombardier chairman Laurent Beaudoin revealed yesterday that the company is studying plans for a new business jet and expects to make a decision about go-ahead "in the very near future". Beaudoin believes that Bombardier needs a new product to fill the niche market between its mid-size Learjet 60 and widebody Challenger 604 corporate jets. "The Challenger has filled that role for some time, but today there is a big gap in that aircraft family," says Beaudoin.
The aircraft will be marketed under the Bombardier name, like the new ultra-long-range Global Express, and will compete with the Galaxy Aerospace Galaxy and the Raytheon Hawker Horizon.
"It is under study right now and we expect an announcement in the near future," says Beaudoin. "If we go into that niche, we will have to be very competitive, both from a cost and a technical point of view.
"The preliminary studies have been done and we will go ahead when we are convinced we are ready."
At the top end of the business jet market, the war of words continues with rival Gulfstream. At the show on Monday, Gulfstream chairman Ted Forstmann repeated his allegation that Bombardier's announced orders for just over 60 aircraft is questionable.
Beaudoin is only too happy to set the record straight. "All the aircraft now in our order book are firm and have non-refundable deposits on them," he says. "In fact, we have converted a few Gulfstream GV customers to the Global Express.
"We are still at the place where the GV has been certificated, but that is the only advantage they have over the Global Express now.
"I think our aircraft will outperform the GV in every aspect, whether he (Forstmann) likes it or not."
Beaudoin adds that the only problem the company faces with regard to the Global Express programme is that the earliest delivery slots now available are not until the year 2000.
"We have been able to shuffle some orders to make a few earlier positions available, but it is a big problem now. We could sell a lot more aircraft right now if we could deliver them in 1998 or 1999."
Turning to regional jets, and the controversial 30-seat market in particular, Beaudoin does not believe the economic figures add up yet.
"At the moment, we are not ready to make an investment there.
"In this case, we are prepared to let the others be the pioneers," he says.
Source: Flight Daily News