Bombardier highlights business jet portfolio at AIAC Summit

Bombardier used its time at the 2018 Aerospace Industries Association of Canada annual summit in Ottawa, Ont., to plug the virtues of its business jet portfolio as the company hopes to maintain its dominance of that market segment.

The latest addition to Bombardier's fleet is the Global 7500 business jet, with a first delivery scheduled for next month. Bombardier Photo
The latest addition to Bombardier’s fleet is the Global 7500 business jet, with a first delivery scheduled for next month. Bombardier Photo
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Fassi Kafyeke, senior director of strategic technology and innovation for Bombardier Aerospace, pointed out to the summit’s opening day audience Nov. 13 that just five days earlier, it had marked the 40th anniversary of Bombardier’s entry into the business jet market, with the first flight of the Challenger 600 in November 1978.

He described the newest addition to the fleet, the Global 7500, which was designed strictly for corporate aviation as “the largest business jet in the world today.” Thomas Fissellier, director of market analytics and customer insight for Bombardier Business Aircraft, said first delivery is scheduled for next month to an undisclosed customer.

Taking the 7500 from concept to first flight was understandably a painstaking process, explained Kafyeke. It involved extensive use of computational fluid dynamics (CFD), as well as wind tunnel testing before first flight in November 2016.

Building large models for wind tunnels at Canada’s National Research Council Aerospace Research Centre in Ottawa and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Ames Research Center in California and was a months-long process.

As well as the evolution in computing power, Bombardier said the advances in CFD were the result of years of collaboration with universities across Canada, a network which yielded acoustic and aerodynamic gains. “It’s a unique asset that we have in this country and it’s an asset that needs to be nurtured; it needs to be maintained because it’s part of the strength of this country.”

Kafyeke noted that unlike the first-generation 600, every subsequent regional jet and business jet has been designed with winglets, and the advent of the now common transonic wing was possible through increasingly sophisticated CFD that facilitated more accurate modelling and manufacturing of later generations up to and including the 7500, which has a unit price of some $72 million.

“It can fly 7,700 nautical miles . . . nonstop at Mach 0.925 and land in a handkerchief which is known as London City Airport.” Designated LCY by the International Air Transport Association and EGLC by the International Civil Aviation Organization, that airport has a single 1,500-metre runway flanking the Thames River a few kilometres from the British capital’s financial heart. It has been owned since 2016 by a Canadian-led consortium comprising Alberta and Ontario institutional investors as well as a Kuwaiti sovereign wealth fund.

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Fissellier told the AIAC audience that market studies point to a growing appetite for its business jet family, which also includes the Learjet 70/75, Challenger 350 and 650 and the Global 5000/6000 and 5500/6500.

“We’ve been the leader in the business aviation sector for the past 10 years,” he said, adding that 135 deliveries are on track for 2018 compared with approximately 120 each by Gulfstream and Cessna, approximately 90 by Embraer and approximately 50 by Dassault. Fissellier said the projected total of 500-510 deliveries should be about the same as 2017, but he suggested this might be exceeded.

“As I look at it around the world, we’re presenting around 20 countries . . . with our business aircraft. We have a very strong presence in Canada . . . with around 9,000 employees.” However, that amounted to only five per cent of Bombardier’s global market while the United States accounted for about 50 per cent of deliveries, followed by Europe and Latin America and a steadily developing appetite for business jets in Asia, especially China.

With more than 4,700 Bombardier business jets already in operation worldwide, Fissillier said the company is “really well-position to capture and capitalize” on its track record with “the most comprehensive portfolio in business aviation.”

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