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(Adds details from event, executive comments, background)
By Euan Rocha
Toronto, Nov 3 (Reuters) - Bombardier Inc is confident its all new Global 7000 business jet will meet the target for entering service in the second half of 2018, the head of its business aircraft unit, David Coleal, said on Tuesday.
The company, which provided an update on the business jet program at its facilities in Toronto, said despite obstacles it has faced, demand for the new jet is strong.
In July, Bombardier pushed back its timeline on the jet that was expected to go into service in 2016, to the second half of 2018.
"Customers continue to stay with us, because there's nothing that competes with it," said Coleal. "Our backlog is strong."
Montreal-based Bombardier has run into a string of issues in recent months mainly due to delays with its CSeries line of jets that have been delayed for years and are billions of dollars over budget. The narrow-body jet will compete against Boeing's 737s and Airbus Group's A319 and A320 aircraft.
Struggles with the CSeries have left Bombardier saddled with over $9 billion in debt. The company has been looking at a range of options to raise cash, including the sale of a minority stake in its rail arm. Bombardier Chief Executive Alain Bellemare said an announcement on that is expected before the end of the year.
Last week, Quebec announced plans to invest $1 billion in Bombardier's CSeries program in return for a nearly 50 percent stake in the struggling project. At the same time, the company also announced it was permanently mothballing its Learjet 85 program.
Bombardier's executives have candidly admitted that at least some of the company's woes have come from it having taken on too many projects on the go at the same time.
The company believes the Global 7000 will be a game changer in the business jet segment, as the aircraft is larger in scale than most rivals in the market and it boasts tremendous range that would allow it to fly non-stop from New York to Dubai, or even further.
Testing avionics and structural testing are moving along smoothly, the company said, adding that it is doing structural tests on the jet and is moving to a flight validation phase.
The company said it has 10 engines already built for the aircraft and some avionics testing is already completed.
Bombardier shares were flat in afternoon trading on the TSX on Wednesday. (Reporting by Euan Rocha in Toronto; Editing by Andrew Hay)