Posted on Tuesday 12 June 2012 by Ulster Business

Challenger 300 in flight 4 2012 o

Aerospace manufacturer Bombardier has received an order for up to 275 of its Challenger business jets, which are partly made in Belfast.

The Montreal-headquartered company said that NetJets had placed a firm order for 100 of the aircraft, worth around US$2.6bn at 2012 list prices.

NetJets, a private jet-sharing company owned by billionaire investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc, also has options for an additional 175 additional planes, which if fully exercised would take the value of the order to US$7.3bn.

The firm order comprises 75 Challenger 300 Series jets, with deliveries to begin in 2014, and 25 Challenger 605 Series jets, with deliveries to begin in 2015.

Bombardier in Belfast is responsible for the design and manufacture of the centre fuselage and engine nacelles for the Challenger 605 aircraft, and the centre fuselage for the Challenger 300 business jet.

A spokesman said the order will help to sustain jobs in the company’s Northern Ireland operation at Queen's Island.

“The announcement of this NetJets order – the largest business aircraft sale in Bombardier’s history – is very welcome and is a huge vote of confidence in Bombardier, our employees and the Challenger aircraft family. Bombardier leads the business aircraft market in terms of sales revenues, and through our operations in Belfast, the UK plays a major role in this sector,” the spokesman said.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster welcomed the news of what would be the largest business aircraft sale in Bombardier’s history.

The Minister said: “Bombardier is a major employer in Northern Ireland and this announcement is a significant and welcome boost to the local economy. Bombardier’s agreement with NetJet is a tremendous endorsement of the technological expertise and capability available in Northern Ireland and signals the continued success of this multinational corporation.

Bombardier said its Challenger aircraft are renowned for their reliability, performance and wide cabin comfort and would complement NetJets’ existing fleet. NetJets has proved popular with business people, entertainers and athletes as it lets them own access to a jet without the hassle of responsibility for maintenance, licences or crew.

NetJets, which currently has a fleet of over 700 aircraft worldwide, also placed 25 firm orders and options for 125 more with Cessna, the world’s largest maker of business jets.

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