ORLANDO, Florida – NetJets is launching its second Bombardier Challenger aircraft, this time the Challenger 650.

Chuck Suma, NetJets senior vice president of global asset management, stood alongside Bombardier Business Aircraft President Eric Martel as they announced the new model Oct. 19 in front of the mockup of the follow-on to the Challenger 605 on the eve of this week’s National Business Aviation Association’s Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition here.

The order for 25 aircraft and 50 options was actually part of a deal announced two years ago. But then it was announced for the Challenger 605 "NG." That June 2012 order had included firm commitments for 75 Challenger 300s and 125 options.

The Challenger 300s ultimately had transitioned to the 350, and NetJets launched that program with first delivery in June. NetJets anticipates taking delivery of the new 650 beginning in 2015.

As with the Challenger 350 – and all other of the new fleets ordered by NetJets in recent years – the 650s will be tailored to the fractional operators specifications with "Signature Series features." These include customized cabinetry, seating, inflight entertainment and lighting.

The affirmation of the orders for the 650 builds upon a strong partnership with NetJets that began in 2011 with the announcement that they would buy Bombardier’s Global aircraft. This marked a shift for Bombardier, which until that point had primarily sold its aircraft to NetJets rival and then-Bombardier owned Flexjet.

Martel characterized the resulting partnership between Bombardier and NetJets as a "great collaboration" that has resulted in firm orders for 100 Challengers and 30 Global 5000 and 6000s, and options for 175 more Challengers and 40 of the 5000/6000s.

Suma echoed those sentiments, saying the company set out in 2010 to recast its fleet, aligning itself to partners that were willing to work to develop aircraft that met its customers’ needs. Since that time, NetJets has ordered 670 new aircraft valued at $17.6 billion.

NetJets is to have 60 Signature aircraft in its fleet by year’s end – 35 Phenoms, eight Challengers and 17 Global 5000/6000s.

NetJets has been seeing an uptick in interest, Suma notes, saying that the 650, with its transcontinental capabilities and two-zone cabin, sits in a "vibrant market niche." Presales of the 650 ahead of the announcement have gone well, he adds, noting that the company has sold the equivalent of whole airplanes.

Following the market trend, improved share sales have been particularly notable for super-mid and large cabin models for NetJets. But overall the market is improving, owners are flying more and flying more hours in addition to the increased shares.

NetJets is still taking a cautious approach, transitioning its fleet over a 10-year period. Most of the new aircraft come in as older aircraft cycle out. But NetJets is expanding modestly. Next year the company plans to take 55 aircraft and cycle out 50.

Some of the cycling out results in the retirement of whole lines of aircraft in the company’s fleet. This includes Cessna Citation Ultras and Hawker 400s, neither of which are in production.

Suma says the idea has been to streamline the fleet with fewer types, but to offer options within each cabin niche.

As the market strengthens – good news for manufacturers – NetJets appears on pace to exercise at least some of its numerous options, Suma says. He expects this will include even more derivatives in the future.