How Will Bombardier React to Gulfstream’s Big Launches?

Bombardier G5000

Everybody is wondering whether Bombardier will make headlines next week at the NBAA Convention in Orlando, Florida, as the Canadian business jet builder feels the pressure to steal some of the thunder from Gulfstream's big announcement on Tuesday of the all-new G500 and G600 large-cabin twinjets.

We can't confirm or deny that new Global-family jets will be revealed at the show (because we don't know) but what we do know is the Learjet 85 will be making its public debut at the static display after several delays in the program and, more importantly, customers will be arriving with pointed questions about what's next from the Montreal company.

Bombardier is certainly feeling the competitive heat from Gulfstream and Dassault, both of which have new airplanes in the pipeline that are quite competitive with Bombardier's own Global 5000/6000 and 7000/8000 models.

One big surprise we noted at the Gulfstream event in Savannah, Georgia, this week was G500's completed price of $43.5 million (in 2014 $), which is well below the Bombardier G5000's $49 million sticker, although G5000's nowadays are certainly selling for less.

How do these two airplanes stack up? Interestingly, the cabin width of each is nearly identical, which we have to guess was a conscious decision on Gulfstream's part. Cabin length in the Gulfstream, meanwhile, is actually a touch longer, and the windows in the G500 are much larger than anything short of the identical units on the Gulfstream G650. Max range is about the same (5,000 nm for the G500 vs. 5,200 nm for the G5000, both at Mach .85), while the G500, with a max speed of Mach 0.925, beats the G5000's Mach 0.88 top speed.

Where the G500 really begins to differentiate itself from the G5000, however, is in the technology packed inside. From the fly-by-wire flight controls, to the touchscreen-heavy Symmetry flight deck to the active-control sidesticks and the extremely quiet and highly refined cabin, there's a lot to love about the G500. Not that Bombardier's G5000 is a bad airplane, it's just getting a bit long in the tooth, improvements aside. Meanwhile, the decision by longtime Bombardier customer Flexjet to place a bulk order for Gulfstreams has to sting.

Which is why we'll be watching very closely what Bombardier has to say and show next week in Orlando. We'll let you know as soon as we find out.

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