Bombardier’s mould-breaking Global 7500 reached a significant milestone on 28 September 2018, receiving its Transport Canada Type Certification after more than 2,700 hours of flight test. Perhaps more significantly, on 7 November the OEM was able to announce Federal Aviation Administration approval, simultaneously reinforcing its intention to make first customer delivery before year end.
The trials programme employed five flight test vehicles and Bombardier has not only proven its performance promises for the Global 7500, but exceeded them, extending maximum range out to 7,700nm and providing access to some of the world’s more challenging airports, including London City, from delivery.
At the same time, both the Global 5500 and 6500 have progressed well since their surprise launch at Geneva’s EBACE show in May. At NBAA in Orlando during October, Bombardier declared their flight test programme 70% complete and confirmed its intention to fulfil first customer deliveries in 2019. Featuring an optimised wing and new Rolls-Royce Pearl engines, the 5500 and 6500 offer 5,700nm and 6,600nm of range, respectively.
All three new Globals represent a definitive blend of aerodynamics, powerplant efficiency and performance, speed, range and craftsmanship, but without a fast reacting, easily accessible global support network in place, ownership might quickly become a chore. It’s a fact Bombardier recognises, and its worldwide maintenance and support system is not only acknowledged as superior by its customers, but expanding.
Most recently the manufacturer added five Mobile Response Team trucks to its US support effort and opened its seventh new line maintenance station in 18 months. The Paris facility, located at Le Bourget Airport, supports line and unscheduled maintenance, and offers AOG support. Its engineers are certified across the Bombardier range, including the Learjet 60, Challenger 300 and 600 series, and all Globals. The latter includes the Global 7500 – it’s coming soon, and Bombardier is ready.
While the company’s developmental emphasis is on the Globals, it shouldn’t be forgotten that Bombardier’s is among the more expansive product lines in the market, extending from the seven-passenger, 2,060nm Learjet 70, through the ten-place, 3,200nm Challenger 350 to the 19-passenger Global 7500. The current production Learjet 70 and 75 trace their origins back to the original Learjet 23, among the very first, pioneering bizjet designs.
The Challenger 650, meanwhile, has its roots in the CL-600, which first emerged in the late 1970s and effectively introduced Bombardier to the executive and VIP market. Its fuselage section and airframe configuration also informed the highly successful CRJ series of regional airliners, both the Challenger and CRJ then contributing to the Global Express, which entered service in 1999 and led directly to today’s Globals.
Bombardier delivered a Challenger 350, a machine developed in the spirit of the very first Challengers, to Latitude 33 Aviation late in October, continuing the good news revealed at NBAA, where NetJets confirmed it was converting previous options for five Challenger 350s and a Global 6000, for delivery in 2019. Also at the show, Bombardier announced delivery of 96 business jets for the year to date, with 31 delivered in Q3, and an order backlog of US$14.3 billion at 30 September.
Speaking in Orlando, David Coleal, President, Bombardier Business Aircraft, noted: “This quarter’s delivery and backlog performance is a true reflection of the breadth and quality of Bombardier’s second-to-none aircraft portfolio.
“We are seeing strong demand for our Global aircraft family rivalled only by the continued strong performance of our Challenger franchise, which we estimate outperformed each competitors’ medium-category deliveries by a ratio of 5 to 1 or higher in the third quarter.”
Looking for a deeper understanding of the Global 5500 and 6500, the rebranding of the Global 7000 to 7500, and how Bombardier works to satisfy customer requirements, EVA tracked down Khader Mattar, VP Sales Middle East & Africa, Asia Pacific, China, at the EBACE event in Geneva. A man with a busy schedule, he first addressed the question of the Global 7500 rebranding and exciting Global 5500 and 6500 launch.
“Introducing a new product to market is no small feat, but introducing the 7000 as the longest-ranged, first true four-zone aircraft went very well with immense interest still going strong. Now it’s rebranded as the Global 7500 and to enhance the offering between Global 6000 and 7500, Bombardier decided to introduce the Global 6500.
“For individuals flying from Asia to Europe, for example, we believe the greater range of the 6500 complements the product line nicely. The new aircraft have been really well received and although we kept the news back until the last minute, customers are showing keen interest.”
A product launch as significant and dramatic as that for the Global 5500 and 6500, combined with the newsworthiness of imminent Global 7500 entry into service, has ensured Bombardier remained in the spotlight for the remainder of 2018, a situation in which Mattar sees real benefit. “When we expand our product line, people remember that we look after the whole market, from the smaller Learjet, through the medium size Challengers to ultra-long range. We’re happy to service every sector and satisfy every need. We meet individual customer requirements with the Learjet just as we do with the Global 7500; I’m delighted to see new aircraft in the product line and delighted to sell them too!”
Does he see the potential for selling customers a pair of Bombardier aircraft, perhaps a Challenger for shorter-range work, alongside a Global 7500? “We’ve seen people buy a Global 6000 and a Challenger 350, but it depends on the region. In Europe I can imagine customers buying a Learjet and a Global 7500, but if you go into Asia customers tend to fly further than the range of the Learjet 75 and will opt for the Challenger 350 instead.
“I’m excited about the launch of the Global 6500, because it really meets the demand to fly from Asia to Europe, while the Global 7500 provides the range to fly from Asia to the US West Coast. We saw great interest in the Global 7500 mock-up tour in China, Singapore and Dubai, where the reception was tremendous. To see an airplane with a true four-zone cabin dedicated to the owner’s needs with, for example, a state room, an entertainment room, a dining room and a meeting room all at the same time, plus a full-size kitchen, means people can fly with the same amenities as the office and home. The aircraft will fly 17 hours or more and satisfies every need over such a trip.”
Bombardier’s major competitor in the long-range and ultra-long range segments is obviously Gulfstream. Asked during the Geneva show for his thoughts on the latest Globals, Mark Burns, President Gulfstream Aerospace, commented that he appreciated having a competitor with such great products. He reckoned the competition made Gulfstream work harder, to the benefit of its customers. What’s Mattar’s view from the other side of the fence?
“It’s always good to have healthy competition in any market. We strive to serve the needs of our customers, we always focus on the customer. If we can serve that demand, I’m happy to compete with anyone. We respect Gulfstream just as they respect us. They have a duty to serve their customers and we have a duty to serve ours and our market. We strive to get the best product and support out there, based on our customers’ demands, but also demands from the regulatory authorities, the demand for technology and the demand for comfort – we have to satisfy multiple requirements.”
Mattar’s area of responsibility is geographically vast and encompasses a spectrum of cultures, mounting a series of challenges that would be difficult to overcome without a dedicated team of salespeople. “It’s a very multicultural region, quite complex in terms of satisfying customer requirements. But we have talented and dedicated teams of regional sales directors in place who understand the market they represent. It helps that Bombardier itself is a diverse global company in touch with the different regions that it serves.
“And although it’s global, the company still retains a family atmosphere, which means that as an organisation we understand and respect every culture, and work with that culture according to their needs. We’re happy and comfortable doing that and our results in these regions show how successful we are.”
With this team of regional sales managers doing so good a job, Mattar’s role is presumably restricted to flying in at the last minute and signing the contract? “My wife would be very happy if that’s all I had to do! I work very closely with my team and I’m very satisfied with how we all collaborate so well together. Moreover, Bombardier is always willing to listen to us and to our customers, and provides a great deal of support. It’s hard work, but if you are open to understanding different cultures, different regions and how each of our business aircraft are suited to the needs of these regions, I think it’s a really successful formula.
“I still learn something with every sale we complete. Our customers are very successful, extremely bright. They’ve become successful through a combination of drive and intelligence, and they look for value when purchasing an aircraft. They understand our business and expect a product that is up to their standards and that offers value for every dollar they spend.
“And it’s not all about the product either. It’s also about providing support throughout the ownership and operation of their aircraft. Bombardier is expanding on that promise too, we’re extending our support network – because we built their business jet and know it best, we’re ideally suited to provide our customers with the support they need throughout the lifetime of their aircraft ownership. In addition to developing new products, we’re also investing heavily in support.” n