Transformers: Bombardier sees new opportunities in special missions

Manufacturers of business and regional aircraft are increasingly finding new revenue streams with military customers. Steve Patrick explains how Bombardier Business Aviation is moving into new markets.

Patrick said: “We’re looking for new opportunities now for our platforms. We've got a wide range of platforms at Bombardier Aerospace, from the Global Express to the Challenger, to the Learjet. And on the commercial side we have the Q Series and the CRJ.

“What we're finding is that the attributes that made these platforms great business and commercial aircraft, also make them great platforms for specialisation.

"We have endurance, we have cabin volume, we have reliability, we have excess power capability. These really are great attributes in the missionised world."

Transformers 

One example of a missionised version is Bombardier’s Global 6000 which has been modified for Saab's GlobalEye.

We asked: What happens to the usual trappings of a business aircraft in these scenarios?

Patrick said: “We take the basic green aircraft, we remove the interior so there's no leather, there's no champagne. What we provide...is a very solid platform so we provide the power, the cooling, maybe some of the structural provisions for them to then attach sensors to. It would be the responsibility of the mission house to attach and integrate their sensors, but we provide that standard interface for them to leverage.”

He added: “One of the key things in the aerospace industry is the re-use of technology, the re-use of capability. We look for opportunities to leverage things we've done in the past and whenever we have an engagement for a possible specialised application, we consider designs or creations we worked on in the past. Can we reapply that?”

Medevac

Another example of repurposing is Bombardier’s Challenger 650 aircraft which has been converted into an air ambulance for  Swiss Air-Rescue Rega.

Patrick said: “One of the strengths of our portfolio is the medevac application.”

He said the Challenger 650 is an “exceptional platform for that application because of the cabin size, because of the range and performance of the aircraft.”

He added:  “But also, if you look further back, Learjets have been used as medevac aircraft for many years. So there is definitely a history of Bombardier products in the medevac role. And we see going forward more applications for the Lear 75, for the Challenger 650, specifically in the medevac role.”

Collaboration 

On how this changes product development, Patrick said: “It’s key in these specialised applications that you have a very close and collaborative relationship with the system integrator and supplier. So, we've got very strong relationships with L3, with Saab, with other companies. It really becomes an open dialogue between the two organisations.

“We know the platform best as the OEM; they know the system best as their own system OEM, so how can we bring those great talents together and optimise the solution?”

“It’s the basis for a great, long-term relationship,” he said. “Each platform has its own application so you may see us working with multiple partners, but each of them brings something to the mix and we bring our own skills.”

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