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DoD buys two Challenger 650s to replace two 1980s-vintage Challengers


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https://www.mromagazine.com/2020/06/08/feds-sign-105-million-deal-with-bombardier-for-two-new-challenger-jets/

 

Feds sign $105 million deal with Bombardier for two new Challenger jets

 

By Lee Berthiaume 
 
 

OTTAWA – The federal Liberal government has inked a sole-source deal with Quebec aerospace firm Bombardier to purchase two new Challenger jets to replace half the Canadian Armed Forces’ existing executive aircraft fleet.

The $105-million contract follows recent warnings from defence officials that two of the military’s four existing aircraft would no longer be allowed to fly in many countries within a few years because of outdated technology.

It also comes after Bombardier announced Friday that it was slashing 2,500 jobs from its aviation division as demand for private jets has plummeted due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yet the decision to purchase the two new Challenger 650s could stoke criticism as governors general, prime ministers and cabinet ministers have been routinely accused in the past of using the small private jets as personal flying taxis.

The Department of National Defence announced the deal with Bombardier on Saturday, saying the new planes along with a supply of spare parts and initial training for military personnel will be delivered this summer.

“We are really pleased to be able to announce that we’re going to purchase two new Challenger 650s from Bombardier,” said the Defence Department’s deputy minister, Jody Thomas.

“It was an excellent confluence of timing. We needed the planes with the regulatory changes.”

Due to more congested airspace and the incorporation of newer digital technology such as GPS in air-traffic control, countries around the world are phasing in new standards requiring modern navigation systems on all aircraft.

While two Challengers purchased by the federal government in the early 2000s have relatively modern systems, the two Challengers purchased in the 1980s don’t meet the new standards.

Ottawa bought itself some time when it inked an agreement in December that lets the two older jets continue to fly in the U.S., but other countries are starting to bring in the same standards. Canada will implement the standards between 2021 and 2023.

Thomas defended the decision to purchase the planes from Bombardier without a competition. The new planes are similar to the military’s existing Challengers, she said, which will allow them to be seamlessly integrated into the Royal Canadian Air Force.

“It made sense to buy Canadian capability when there is an innate Canadian capability,” she said. “And these planes actually will fit into the fleet very easily. The same technicians. The pilots will be able to fly both types of planes.”

Thomas denied the purchase amounted to a handout to Bombardier as it faces massive layoffs. Rather, she said the government saw an opportunity as the two planes were “on the line” and ready to be snapped up.

While online searches suggest the going rate for a Challenger 650 is around $40 million, Thomas said the full $105-million contract includes spare parts and training.

“We are not overpaying,” she said. “It is more than just the purchase of the plane. … And so it’s too easy to just Google a number. This is the in-totality price.”

The Challengers, which can carry nine passengers, have long been attached to controversy, with opposition parties of all stripes painting any use of the jets as inappropriate and wasteful.

Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, which was accused of excessive use of the Challengers, made a point of retiring two of the aircraft in 2014 as a cost-cutting measure. The Tories said at the time that the move would save $1.5 million per year.

Previous governments have said the aircraft are needed because the prime minister and governor general are not allowed, for security reasons, to use commercial aircraft. Defence officials note the Challengers are also used by the military to transport senior officers and troops in some circumstances, as well as for medical evacuations.

The aircraft have also been used to carry supplies and personal protective equipment around the country during the COVID-19 crisis, Thomas said. They also ferried military personnel to Europe after a helicopter crashed off the coast of Greece in April.

“The Air Force uses these planes every day on behalf of the Canadian Armed Forces,” she said. “Taking members of the Royal Canadian Navy after the Cyclone crash, that’s not political. That’s work. And these are the right planes to do that kind of work.”

 

 
 

 

Edited by dagger
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51 minutes ago, rudder said:

If they were going to spend that much taxpayer money on 2 aircraft from BBD then it should have been 2 Global Express which are more mission capable for long range flights.

and a significantly higher price tag

 

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3 hours ago, boestar said:

and a significantly higher price tag

 

It also caters to a different use. If, for example, the PM - whoever he is - goes on a foreign trip, the entourage, including the media, needs a much larger aircraft, hence the A310s. They also need replacing, but that's another story.

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1 hour ago, dagger said:

It also caters to a different use. If, for example, the PM - whoever he is - goes on a foreign trip, the entourage, including the media, needs a much larger aircraft, hence the A310s. They also need replacing, but that's another story.

There will be a lot of low-time used A330-200's available soon that would fit the bill nicely. Convert a couple into A330 MRTT's and you're off.

Edited by Maverick
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16 hours ago, dagger said:

It also caters to a different use. If, for example, the PM - whoever he is - goes on a foreign trip, the entourage, including the media, needs a much larger aircraft, hence the A310s. They also need replacing, but that's another story.

A global Express fully outfitted for executive travel carries 15 people or less depending on layout.  For a price tag in excess of 100 million a copy.

 

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14 hours ago, rudder said:

Why did DND have to buy factory new biz jets?

for one, older aircraft require more maintenance and upkeep.  A new Challenger would come with a plethora of parts advantages and a warranty.  Support contracts are also a good thing that actually save money in the long run.  A used aircraft is a bigger challenge.

 

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16 hours ago, rudder said:

Why did DND have to buy factory new biz jets?

Wouldn't state aircraft have some unique equipment that's probably cheaper to build into the design then retrofit?

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49 minutes ago, 330Heavy said:

When you think about it, the CRJ rights now belong to Mitsubishi, the Challenger still in Bombardier hands... but they are the same aircraft ?

not quite the same.

 

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56 minutes ago, Specs said:

Wouldn't state aircraft have some unique equipment that's probably cheaper to build into the design then retrofit?

several years ago.....Sheesh almost 20..... I was in Germany working on 2 Global express aircraft for the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau.  Both aircraft had been through a full interior completion with an executive interior in England.  In Germany the company was contracted to install 6 workstations in the interior for airways calibration and other flight systems work for their civil aviation.  There was some pretty exotic systems installed in that aircraft that you would not see anywhere else.  However these aircraft were for a use similar to the one TC uses for checking landing systems and such and not VIP travel.

When all was said and done for each aircraft the cost was $50 million USD for the airframe (Green), $48 Million USD for the interior completion another almost $50 million for the outfitting of equipment and refit of the interior to accomodate it. plus the extras like maintenance and paint.  That is PER AIRCRAFT.  That give you an idea of the costs involved.

back in 2000 the cost of the original Global was in the $50 million USD range GREEN.  An average run of the mill interior would set you back $30+ million with an average more like $50 milllion plus.  add the paint job on to that.  

If the PM needed special equipment added on then start adding it up.

A challenger would fall in at around half the cost with all the range the PM should need.

 

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13 hours ago, internet said:

What to you put in the plane to give the engines energy?  Just asking, for a friend.

Fuel from Saudi Arabia and other middle eastern countries I guess.  But who knows, perhaps it will be outfitted with large batteries, solar cells and electric engines or maybe it can run on the hot air generated by the politicians  using the aircraft. ?

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