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Bombardier shakes up leadership at business-jet division

The Bombardier Learjet 60XR. Bombardier announced leadership changes at its business-jet division on Nov. 4, 2013.

Handout via Bombardier

Bombardier Inc. is changing the leadership at the top of its business-jet division at a time when the company is undergoing difficulties in the development of new models at the unit.

Montreal-based Bombardier said on Monday that Éric Martel will replace Steve Ridolfi as president of Bombardier Business Aircraft in the new year.

Mr. Ridolfi is to take the position of senior vice-president of strategy and mergers and acquisitions, reporting directly to Bombardier president and chief executive officer Pierre Beaudoin.

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Bombardier's Learjet unit in Wichita, Kan., has experienced delays in development of its all-composite Model 85 business jet, which is intended to fill a new niche in the segment between midsize and super-midsize.

The 10-passenger Learjet 85 was supposed to have completed its flight tests this year, but has still not had its first flight. The company says it is targeting that event before the end of the year. Entry into service has been pushed forward into 2014 instead of this year.

There have been delays as well in the planned rollout of two upgraded Learjet models, the 70 and 75.

And Bombardier faces a major new challenge from rival Dassault Aviation's all-new Falcon 5X in the large-cabin category, which made a huge splash at the recent National Business Aviation Association Convention.

The Falcon 5X will compete directly with Bombardier's Global 5000 and Gulfstream Aircraft Corp.'s G450.

Dassault says the 5X will boast 30 per cent lower operating costs than the G450 and 35 per cent less than the Global 5000.

"I extend my heartfelt congratulations to Steve on his new position and wish him continued success," Bombardier Aerospace president and chief operating officer Guy Hachey said in a news release.

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"Steve has made countless contributions to Aerospace throughout his career, and this move to the corporate office will assuredly benefit the entire organization."

Mr. Martel has held several positions at Bombardier Aerospace, including president of Bombardier customer services and specialized and amphibious aircraft since 2011.

Michel Ouelette is to take over from Mr. Martel in that posting.

"These appointments come at a critical time for Bombardier Aerospace as we make major investments in product development and continue to grow our services footprint internationally," said Mr. Hachey.

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