Sky’s no limit
Corporates investing in their own aircraft
CANADIAN AIRCRAFT manufacturer Bombardier Aerospace and business aircraft solutions provider ExecuJet last week launched the latest in the Bombardier Challenger 600 business jet series. The Bombardier Challenger 605, which touched down for the first time in Africa at Johannesburg’s Lanseria International Airport, features a new avionics suite and a redesigned, more spacious interior. It succeeds the Challenger 604 model, of which the last aircraft enters production in May 2007. Although only two months old – its maiden flight was in January 2007 – its order book is already full until 2009.
Commenting on the growing popularity of corporate aviation, Ettore Poggi, MD for ExecuJet South Africa – said demand for business aircraft has been increasing exponentially over the last two years, particularly in the African context. Poggi says his company has sold more than 90 new aircraft in the last 10 years in sub-Saharan Africa. “Basically our clients are people within sub-Saharan Africa and are typically governments, dignitaries, corporate organisations, celebrities and wealthy individuals. From a global perspective, there have been several motivators for this increase, including the realisation and acceptance that business aviation is not just the domain of senior executives and the rich and famous.”
According to the Toronto Stock Exchange-listed Bombardier, the 12-seater (plus three crew) Challenger 605 operates at a maximum cruising speed of 470 knots (870km/h) and can be modified to perform other roles such as air ambulance, electronic systems training and maritime surveillance. It has a range of 4 045 nautical miles (7 491km), enabling it to reach London from Johannesburg with one refuelling break. “Its wide body offers corporate and government leaders a quiet and comfortable area to work and rest,” said ExecuJet in a statement. The Challenger 605 showcases a state-of-the-art Ethernet-based Cabin Electronics System as featured in the Global 5000 series, which provides office environment and entertainment options, including 45,7cm bulkhead-mounted cabin monitors, LCD touch-screen passenger control units and high speed Internet.
Robert Habjanic, Bombardier sales director for Africa, said prices for the 605 would start at U$28,5m (R205m). He said his company had received a number of orders for the jet from African governments and businesses. Bombardier would produce about 40 Challenger 605 jets a year to meet its already “substantial” order book, and the first African delivery (to an unnamed client for competitive reasons) would be made before the end of the third quarter of 2007.
Finweek saw no less than 15 jets parked in the ExecuJet hangar near Lanseria Airport, including two each owned by Barloworld and Mvelaphanda. Sappi and Pick ’n Pay (among others) also have their own jets waiting for that long trip abroad.
For R205m, nice toy to have. (Bombardier 1, 2 & 3): Bombardier Challenger 605