At 7,000-nm, Gulfstream's coming G650 will offer unmatched range and at 0.925 Mach it will be the fastest civil aircraft in the world, but a former Bombardier executive expects Bombardier to counter with a design to be unveiled next month at NBAA's trade show in Atlanta. George Tsopeis, a former member of Bombardier's strategy and business development team, told the Montreal Gazette that Bombardier's new secret ultra-long-range business jet is known within the company as the M-170. He says he does not know if the aircraft will be a more costly new clean-sheet design, or a further development of the Global Express XRS. He says costs and timing suggest the latter. (The G650 is expected to reach customers in 2012.) Bombardier has said the rumor is "pure speculation." But if the G650's range, size and speed (plus its 200 orders) create a new market category, Bombardier has offered other reasons to believe it will seek to quickly deliver stronger competition.
Bombardier sees itself as "the market leader" and has said "we will not relinquish our position," adding that the G650 "would not go unchallenged." That, and the popularity of the nearly $65 million G650, may force Bombardier's to put its money where its mouth is by putting forth a superior ultra-long-range (or more competitive) jet. Tsopeis believes the XRS can be stretched and flown on the G650's Rolls-Royce engines while vastly upgrading the flight deck and increasing fuel capacity in the wings. Industry analyst Brain Foley believes there could be truth to the rumors, speculating that Bombardier may have to "get in that market segment sooner rather than later." And if Bombardier wants to unequivocally lay claim to the top spot in the G650's market segment, Foley believes the company's effort will have to be very aggressive.