So, the cat is out of the bag -- just maybe not with as much fanfare as Boeing had hoped for its budding partnership with Canadian business jet maker Bombardier.
For more than a year, Boeing has been playing coy on who is the manufacturer of its top choice of a mid-sized business jet on which to house its Maritime Surveillance Aircraft concept of a scaled down P-8 for international partners.
The company hasn't wanted to say publicly until it is ready for a formal partnering announcement. But, that seems to be taking longer than planned.
So, in Boeing's pre-Paris Air Show roundtable with reporters, the company's defense business development executive, Jeff Kohler acknowledged that its preferred partner is Bombardier.
Already, Boeing has begun integration of intelligence-collecting mission systems on a Bombardier 605 as a testbed, says Jeff Kohler, vice president of international relations. This aircraft was a test article owned by Boeing. Kohler said. The aircraft was set to be sold, but Boeing’s defense unit secured it for MSA testing.
“We are … at the end game,” Kohler told reporters at a roundtable hosted in advance of the Paris Air Show, which starts tomorrow at Le Bourget. “But, we are keeping our options open.” Kohler indicated the company is committed to Bombardier, but that options are in place if the talks fall through.
He and Boeing's defense strategy chief, Chris Raymond, did not say what is the issue holding them back from closing on a deal. Late last year, officials had said they were close to going public on a partnership. And, apparently, that's not changed.
The demonstration aircraft is expected to fly this year with mission systems.
A deal on super-mid-size platform selection is, once again, expected to be announced soon, Kohler says.
Company officials previously said the market ripe for up to $10 billion, or roughly 152 aircraft.