Nothing says "business mobility" better than a Learjet, the aircraft that shaped the business jet industry with its streamlined form, advanced features and unparalleled performance. Fifty years into service, the brand has become even more iconic, transporting world leaders and achievers more quickly, productively and safely - thanks to Bombardier Aerospace, the name behind the modern Learjet family.
"Over the years, Bombardier has identified a niche that was not being served. From there, it was able to design a product that pursued that niche competitively - from an operating cost perspective and from an acquisition cost perspective," says Michael McAdoo, vice-president for strategy and international business development. "Today, Bombardier's product family has an aircraft for every business application. For instance, our latest products, the Global 7000 and 8000, are the longest-range business jets available."
The company's commitment to innovation is reflected by its aircraft programme management, which manufactured the first clean-sheet commercial aircraft in the last 10 years. The CSeries, dubbed the future of Bombardier from a commercial aircraft perspective, is targeting a very specific niche.
"The CSeries is the ideal commercial jet in the 100- to 149-seat market, featuring 20 per cent better fuel consumption and 15 per cent better cash operating cost in its class," McAdoo says. "It shows the long-term perspective of the company. While some manufacturers and market segments have abandoned their new aircraft programmes amid the economic recession, Bombardier has continued investing because we know this will be a great programme for us over the long term."
Having been active in Asia for more than 40 years, Bombardier envisions the CSeries as a pivotal instrument in developing the region's aviation infrastructure. It sees China, in particular, as among the countries that will benefit the most from the aircraft's advantages.
Bombardier has an aerospace office in Shanghai, providing a window to China. It has also selected civilian and defence aircraft manufacturer Shenyang Aircraft Corporation as the supplier for the CSeries aircraft's centre fuselage.
"Establishing a local presence gives us a deeper insight and a better understanding of the China market, and access to a great resource for homegrown talent," McAdoo says. "China is so distinct that we approach it like our second home. We even have a full-time Bombardier Aerospace executive committee member working in the Shanghai office with a full support staff - this is part of how we do something quite specific for China that we do for no other region."
China is forecast to represent roughly 20 per cent of the world demand over the next 20 years in both of Bombardier's segments. Other ongoing projects in the region include Bombardier's long-term collaboration with Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) that leverages commonalities between the CSeries and the bigger C919, a six-abreast aircraft with 160 seats. The company also supports the ARJ21, a smaller Chinese regional jet, as a strategic partner.
"From a business and product strategy perspective, the products are essentially universal - what works in a Chinese context works in most other places. A key to innovation is finding the right local partners for the right applications," McAdoo says. "We consider airlines, the aerospace services sector, manufacturers, investors and others who want to grow with us - that is how we make partnerships work."
Recognising similar demand across Southeast Asia, the company has established a strategic regional hub in Singapore, where it also runs a maintenance, repair and operations facility. It looks forward to strengthening its presence in other emerging markets such as Indonesia and Malaysia.
"Asia will be seeing a lot of Bombardier in the coming years. We want to be present locally in every major market we operate," McAdoo says. "The future is clear for Bombardier, and it is teeming with a wide range of business jets and other fresh, attractive aircraft such as the Learjet 85. We also look forward to continuing our Q400 and the CRJ aircraft programmes, and taking the CSeries to greater heights."