Bombardier is pursuing plans for a "premium passenger" airliner version of the Global Express business jet as interest in the aircraft gathers momentum.

The Canadian manufacturer recently held talks with Virgin Atlantic regarding a deal for five aircraft, and acknowledges an increase in passenger interest in the project. Virgin is studying the aircraft to fly high yield passengers on transatlantic routes such as London-New York.

The aircraft, dubbed the "Global Connector" within Bombardier, would have be able to operate a notional mission of 6,500km (3,500nm) with 19 passengers, says the manufacturer.

"Every year we carry out a strategic product planning and look at the market in significant detail to match up product needs, says Bombardier Regional Aircraft president Steve Ridolfi. "We are now doing that and have several options going forward". This includes the airliner version of the Global Express.

Bombardier has been studying the airliner version of the business jet for some years, and has even studied a stretched model. However the plans now centre on a simpler design utilising the basic airframe with a luxury cabin incorporating 19 first class seats three abreast. "If we put more than 19 seats in we will have to add more emergency exits," says Ridolfi.

Source: Flight International