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Ottawa cash could jumpstart new project: Bombardier CEO

Bombardier chief executive Alain Bellemare says a possible $1 billion investment by the Canadian government could help accelerate the launch of the company’s next aircraft, which could be a business or a commercial jet.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau’s government is still discussing the terms of a $1 billion investment in the Montreal-based manufacturer, with one senior official recently saying it’s now a matter of “how” and not “if”. The investment would add to a $1 billion injection by the Quebec provincial government to set up a joint venture with Bombardier to manage the CSeries programme and another $1.5 billion investment by Quebec pension fund manager CPDQ in Bombardier Transportation, the company's rail division.

Speaking in an interview with the French language CBC affiliate, Bellemare said the investment would, among other benefits, “allow us to launch sooner a new aircraft”, according to an English translation provided by Montreal aerospace blogger Sylvain Faust.

By 2018, Bellemare says the company will have completed all new development programmes, citing the CSeries aircraft family and the 7,000nm-capable Global 7000 business jet, which is scheduled to enter service in the second half of that year. He did not explain the apparent omission of the Global 8000, a 7,800nm-capable stretch that remains under review.

“Since we have long product development cycles we must take a decision soon about what we are going to do with our engineering group and we would like to launch a new programme,” Bellemare says. “It could be in the business aircraft sector, commercial aircraft, might be related to the CSeries ... Today is too soon to comment, we're looking at the market data.”

Bombardier has several options for a new aircraft programme. The company is currently producing six different business jets — Learjets 45 and 75, Challengers 350 and 650, and Globals 5000 and 6000 — and six commercial aircraft — Q400 turboprop, CRJs 700/900/1000 and CS100 and CS300.

In the commercial segment, Bombardier has discussed the possibility of a CSeries stretch called the CS500, which would be sized to directly confront the heart of the Airbus and Boeing duopoly with the A320 and 737. Although company officials said last May that “no CS500 is in sight” and they are focused on the CS100 and CS300, they confirmed at the Farnborough airshow that the existing CSeries wing could support another stretch of the fuselage.

Bombardier also could develop a new regional jet to position against the re-engined Embraer E-Jet E2 family and the Mitsubishi Regional Jet. Finally, it could address calls by several airliners in recent years for a 90-seat turboprop.

Business aviation also offers several opportunities for new products. By 2020, the Global 5000, which entered service in 2005, will be facing new competition from the Dassault Falcon 5X and the Gulfstream G500, while the recently updated Global 6000 will be sold against the Falcon 8X and the Gulfstream G600. Bombardier is continuing to review the Learjet business, but has made no move to replace the cancelled Learjet 85 in the mid-size jet category.

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