Gulfstream unveils new flagship G700 business jet in challenge to rival Bombardier

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - U.S. planemaker Gulfstream on Monday unveiled its widely-expected G700 long-range jet, in a challenge to Bombardier Inc's BBDb.TO flagship Global 7500 aircraft.

Gulfstream Aerospace, a unit of General Dynamics Corp GD.N, said the new plane would be powered by Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC RR.L Pearl 700 engines and anticipates customer deliveries in 2022.

The announcement came on the eve of the National Business Aviation Association’s (NBAA) annual corporate aircraft show in Las Vegas, the biggest business jet show in the world.

Large corporate planes that can fly farther are popular with customers and a highlight of the NBAA show which begins on Tuesday.

Gulfstream Aerospace President Mark Burns said the flagship G700, priced at $75 million, would be the “tallest, widest cabin in our industry.”

As guests sipped wine, Burns unveiled a mock-up of the plane, which seats up to 19 passengers, features a six-place dining or conference room and can fly 7,500 nautical miles at Mach 0.85.

The new Gulfstream plane would compete against Bombardier’s $73 million Global 7500, which is sold out through 2021. Gulfstream secured 10 firm orders of the G700 from launch customer Qatar Executive, a division of Qatar Airways.

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Flexjet was named as the first North American customer, but Gulfstream did not specify an order number.

The NBAA show takes place against a backdrop of slowing global economic growth, trade tensions between the United States and China and Brexit uncertainties, factors that industry experts see softening demand for corporate jets in the next two years.

Still, Brazil's Embraer SA EMBR3.SA began Monday with a firm order valued at $1.4 billion order for 64 business jets, including a mix of the planemaker's mid-size and super mid-sized Praetor aircraft, from fractional aircraft ownership provider Flexjet. Flexjet Chief Executive Michael Silverstro announced the deal with Embraer Executive Jets President Mike Amalfitano.

The Praetor order comes as Embraer is pursuing a broader strategy to grow its executive-jet division as it cedes control of its commercial aviation division to U.S. planemaker Boeing Co BA.N. Embraer launched the Praetors at the NBAA show last year.

Montreal-based Bombardier also said on Monday that its new Global 5500 aircraft will fly 200 nautical miles farther than planned, with a range of 5,900 nautical miles, a lure for customers eager to travel non-stop between far-flung cities.

Bombardier has focused on boosting sales of new products and maintenance packages to drive revenue growth for its aftermarket service business.

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Meanwhile, Textron Inc TXT.N, whose subsidiary Textron Aviation produces Cessna Aircraft, announced a further expansion of its global parts distribution capabilities to make its parts more accessible to customers in Europe and Asia-Pacific earlier this year.

Reporting by Allison Lampert in Las Vegas; Editing by Nick Zieminski, Tom Brown and Jane Wardell