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NBAA: Bombardier on track for Global 6500 deliveries in 2019

Bombardier Business Aircraft is on a roll. Fresh from the certification of the Global 7500, the airframer is moving full steam ahead on its dual Global 5500 and 6500 programme with an aim of certificating it next year.

"Everything, for now, is on track," says Paul Sislian, chief operating officer of Bombardier Business Aircraft.

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Bombardier launched the dual Global 5500 and 6500 programme at EBACE in May. The aircraft, which are updated versions of the Global 5000 and 6000, are powered by new Rolls-Royce Pearl 15 engines, and have redesigned wings built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, updated avionics and a new cabin. The 5500 has a range of 5,700nm (10,560km) and the 6500 a range of 6,600nm.

The airframer has completed about 60% of the flight testing required for certification, Sislian, said at a September briefing at the manufacturer's completion centre in Montreal. The programme involves two flight-test vehicles based in Wichita. Both are Global 6500s as the 5500 is the "same aircraft" save for a 0.8m (2ft 9in) fuselage plug.

The first FTV has almost completed its portion of the programme, including validating the new wing, with the second aircraft doing the remaining "heavy lifting", including putting in the hours needed to certificate the engine on the aircraft, he says.

"We're in a good position," says Sislian. "We're down to one flight test vehicle, basically, to do all the flying."

TIGHT TIMETABLE

Bombardier aims to certificate the Global 5500 and 6500 in the first half of 2019, less than a year after launching the aircraft. This is a marked difference from the green-sheet Global 7500, which was launched in 2010 and, after multiple years of development, then underwent a two-year flight test programme before being given the green light by Transport Canada this September.

"It's not a new type certificate," explains Sislian, when asked how the Global 5500 and 6500 programme compares with the Global 7500.

The airframer plans to begin delivering Global 5500 and 6500s to customers in the second half of 2019, with entry into service by the end of that year.

Bombardier will offer business jet customers a varied line of products once the Global 5500 and 6500 are certificated. It will continue to produce the Global 5000 and 6000 at its Toronto assembly plant, running a four-aircraft model line for the foreseeable future.

The need for space for the Global 7500 at the airframer's Montreal completion centre means Bombardier will send Global 5000/5500s to Wichita for completion while Global 6000/6500s will continue to go to Quebec. Both the 5000 and 6000s, which are comparably sized but have a lower cruise speed and less range compared with their newer siblings, are completed in Montreal at the moment.

"It's more a logistics play for us," says Sislian on the move in Global 5000/5500 completions to Wichita. "You have to move the MRP [material requirements planning] system there, a lot of our work instructions are in French… it's more a knowledge-based transfer."

Some basic tooling will be moved to the Kansas site as well, although the majority will remain in Toronto, he adds.

Bombardier expects to complete its first aircraft in Wichita by the end of 2019, with the customer delivery likely occurring there.

"The overall customer demand has been strong," says Sislian, adding that the airframer will continue to produce the Global 5000 and 6000 as long as customers continue to buy them.

Coupled with the Global 7500, which is larger and has a longer range than other business jets in the market, such as the comparable Challenger and Learjet models, Bombardier executives are confident in their product offering.

The airframer represents nearly 23% of the in-service fleet of 20,605 business jets globally, not including private Airbus and Boeing models, Flight Fleets Analyzer shows. This places it second to Textron Aviation, which includes Beechcraft, Cessna and Hawker, with a 44% share and ahead of Gulfstream Aerospace, with 13%.

The Global family makes up the majority of Bombardier's backlog, with firm orders for 128 aircraft out of 202 on the books, Fleets Analyzer shows. Of those, 67 are for the Global 5000/6000 and four are for the Global 5500/6500.

Bombardier Business Aircraft does not disclose its backlog by model or number of aircraft, only that it was valued at C$14.1 billion ($11 billion) at the end of June.

SOLID MARKET

Bombardier is "very pleased" with the state of global demand for private jets, said Bombardier Business Aircraft president David Coleal at the briefing. He cites a high level of wealth creation for this outlook.

Coleal does not see a major impact from any of the geopolitical issues of the day, including US president Donald Trump's trade wars and Brexit in Europe. He describes demand as "regional", explaining that as one area may see a dip, others pick up the slack.

"We only increase production if book-to-bill is greater than one," he says when asked if Bombardier was planning to produce more business aircraft in light of the positive demand outlook. "It's currently at one, which is not enough to re-evaluate [production] yet."

Bombardier maintains its target of delivering around 135 business jets in 2018, which will be flat compared with the year before. The airframer will provide 2019 guidance in December.

Michel Ouellette, senior vice-president of the Global 7500 and 8000 programme at the airframer, declines to comment on how many 2018 deliveries will be of the new 7500. However, he does say that there are 20 of the aircraft in various stages of production on its lines in Toronto and Montreal.

For all the coverage from NBAA check out our dedicated event page

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