The Luxury Jet Industry Has a New Long-Range Champion

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Bombardier Inc. is extending the range of its marquee business jet to 7,700 nautical miles, unseating the Gulfstream G650 as the long-distance champ of the private-aircraft industry.

The 300-mile improvement for the Global 7000 means the plane will be able to whisk passengers from New York to Hong Kong, or Singapore to San Francisco, Bombardier said in a statement Sunday. A flight-test program with five aircraft has demonstrated the added reach, the company said.

The extra range gives Bombardier bragging rights over the G650 on flying distance as well as size, both of which are crucial selling points for the well-heeled customers who buy the planes. Bombardier Chief Executive Officer Alain Bellemare is counting on the Global 7000 to generate the lion’s share of his targeted $3.5 billion increase in annual sales of private jets by 2020 — a key component of his turnaround plan for the debt-laden company.

“There’s a significant, almost endless desire for more range, more luxury and more space among business-jet buyers,” said David Tyerman, an analyst at Cormark Securities. “We saw that with the G650, and the Global 7000 takes it yet another step further. Every time a manufacturer comes out with a product that’s more capable, there seems to be a market that we didn’t know existed.”

Luxury Battle

Flight testing now exceeds 1,800 hours for the Global 7000 and the plane has reached a top speed of Mach 0.995, just short of the sound barrier, Bombardier said Sunday. The aircraft, with a sticker price of $72.8 million, is sold out through 2021, according to the company.

The Montreal-based manufacturer still has a long way to go as it tries to catch up to the coveted G650, which lists for $69.4 million and has dominated the upper echelon of corporate jets since its debut five years ago. Gulfstream, a unit of Falls Church, Virginia-based General Dynamics Corp., has delivered 300 of the planes.

Bombardier announced plans in November to hire about 1,000 people to work on the Global 7000 at its Montreal completion center. The company is still looking to fill about 500 of the jobs. The jet is assembled at Bombardier’s Downsview factory in Toronto.

Canada’s biggest aerospace company invested $1 billion last year alone in developing and producing the Global 7000, with total cost of the project amounting to “a few billion dollars,” Bellemare said in an interview in December.

 

By: Frederic Tomesco and Thomas Black

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