- 20 Jul 2023
- René Armas Maes
- Aircraft Ownership
Two years after Bombardier launched its Certified Pre-Owned jet program, is its claim to have created a ‘new, premium category of jet’ holding up with the market? What qualifies a jet as CPO anyway? Matt Harris spoke with Bombardier’s Thomas Fissellier...Back to Articles
Traditionally, the choices available on the pre-owned market have varied from nearly new, low-time aircraft equipped with the latest technology, all the way down to low-cost, high-time aircraft nearing retirement, and everything in between.
So, when Bombardier introduced its Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program in mid-2021 claiming that it opened the door on a ‘new, premium category of aircraft’, what exactly was going to be so unique about those jets?
Thomas Fissellier (pictured left), Director of Pre-Owned Aircraft Acquisition & Sales Support at Bombardier explains the rationale. “Bearing in mind the buyer traditionally had a choice between buying new and pre-owned, with the CPO program we wanted to enable buyers to have the best of both worlds,” he explains. “That meant creating a ‘premium’ pre-owned experience.
“When acquiring a CPO jet from Bombardier, the aircraft buyer is not just buying any pre-owned aircraft from the market. The jet they’re buying has been purchased by the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) and has been refurbished and upgraded by the OEM.
“The fact that nobody knows the jet like its manufacturer is a major advantage.”
What’s more, when the buyer flies off in their newly acquired pre-owned jet, they do so with a one-year manufacturer warranty.
“All of this makes for a unique pre-owned offering, which is why we’re saying our CPO jets represent a new premium category of aircraft,” Fissellier summarizes.
The industry’s leading price guides would agree with Bombardier’s assertion. Aircraft Bluebook, AircraftPost and Vref all report Bombardier CPO jets in a separate category than equivalent non-CPO jets.
Although Bombardier does not disclose information on how much its CPO jets sell for, Fissellier does divulge that on average they sell at approximately 10% above Fair Market Value for non-CPO equivalents, while typically spending 40% less time on the market.
But what exactly is attracting buyers to pay top dollar for these aircraft? Getting to the core of what defines a Bombardier CPO jet, it quickly becomes clear that the OEM hangs its hat on five ‘key pillars’ regarding a jet’s refurbishment and upgrade.
“The CPO program is different from a more general aircraft refurbishment or upgrade project in that it is not an upgrade package we sell separately,” Fissellier explains.
“If an owner just wants to upgrade the interior of their jet, Bombardier offers a separate upgrade service for that at any one of its MRO centers.” Instead, a CPO jet is sold based on the following five key pillars having been applied:
Like New Experience: A new, modern interior and new paint providing the look, smell and feel of a new jet.
Future-Proofed Product: Equipped with the latest avionics and connectivity solutions, helping ensure the aircraft is protected from systems redundancy.
Peace of Mind: A one-year OEM warranty, and the option to buy into Bombardier’s Smart Parts Program.
Turnkey Solution: All maintenance items are addressed, and selected, recommended Service Bulletins are complied with.
OEM-Style Transaction Exclusivity: The overall comprehensive OEM upgrade program.
As an example, Bombardier displayed a 2012-model CPO Challenger 605 on static display at the recent EBACE in Geneva. In addition to its brand-new 2023 interior and paint scheme, the cockpit boasted a Collins Pro Line 21 advanced avionics suite while the cabin offered Collins’ Ka-Band connectivity.
With engines, APUs and avionics enrolled on maintenance programs, the various parts and components were covered on Bombardier’s Smart Parts program.
“When we put the CPO stamp on an aircraft, the market will know that it incorporates these five pillars,” Fissellier stresses. “This is why we don’t offer owners the option of buying a pre- owned aircraft with – say – only Pillars One and Two incorporated.
“CPO is not a mix-and-match approach. Any customer who buys a CPO jet purchases all five of these non-negotiable pillars.”
Every year, on average 450 Bombardier jets change hands on the pre-owned aircraft sales market. The numbers spiked at approximately 550 jets in 2021 and 2022, but so far in 2023 they appear to be settling back at their traditional sales levels.
With such high numbers of Bombardier Learjets, Challengers and Globals trading, there’s no shortage of potential candidates for Bombardier to acquire for its CPO program.
Indeed, Fissellier says his team carefully combs through the market to select what it deems the very best pre-owned Bombardier aircraft.
“We focus only on Bombardier jets, and we’re looking for the best aircraft out there,” he says. “Those are the jets we make offers to buy.” The team applies criteria to the aircraft under consideration, such as how many hours the plane has amassed, its age, and its maintenance and damage history.
“We make sure any jet we’re buying for the CPO program goes through a Level 3 Pre-Buy Inspection [the most stringent type] to ensure we know all about the aircraft before we induct it into our CPO program,” Fissellier adds.
But while one might assume much older aircraft like the Learjet 35 and Challenger 601 have little chance of being considered, that isn’t necessarily the case.
“The whole point of the CPO program is to make sure the overall Bombardier fleet is always up to the latest levels of safety and design,” Fissellier says. “As a result, our CPO program is model-agnostic if it is a Bombardier aircraft.
While the program has so far been particularly successful with upgrading Challenger 605s and Challenger 300s, we will always look at older aircraft as well.
"When an exceptional older plane is found, it will be considered. It’s all about finding the aircraft with the right criteria to make it successful in the program,” he says. “So let’s say we find the right Learjet approaching a major inspection having had no interior upgrade in a while. We may go ahead and induct it into the CPO program.”
With many OEMs experiencing sizeable orderbook backlogs, and buyers of new jets consequently waiting two or more years to receive their aircraft from the day they place their order, it could be said that Bombardier’s CPO program provides an ideal interim option.
“Interim is the key word,” Fissellier highlights. “With immediate availability and OEM backing through the maintenance, interior and upgraded avionics giving a CPO jet a brand-new look and feel, and with the one-year warranty, we have been finding the program is popular with buyers waiting to take delivery of their new jet a couple of years down the line.”
But he adds the program taps into a couple of other interesting buyer pools, too. “Concept buyers – those who maybe chartered or held a fractional ownership share previously and who have finally decided the time is right to move into full aircraft ownership have shown a lot of interest in the CPO program,” Fissellier reveals.
And another type of buyer snapping these jets up are those owners who previously flew other brands, but who wanted to try out a Bombardier jet for the first time.
Since the program was created, about 90% of the sales have been to North America-based customers, but that doesn’t mean Bombardier’s CPO program is not tailored just as well for international buyers.
While Bombardier CPO jets are completed in Tucson, Arizona; Dallas, Texas; Miami, Florida; Wichita, Kansas; and Hartford, Connecticut, Bombardier says it can do the CPO throughout its worldwide Service Center Network.
“It’s just by nature and structure of industry that determines the majority of sales have been to North American customers,” Fissellier says. “North America is the Number One market, but we are expecting plenty of continued interest internationally, too.”
For more information and to see a listing of Bombardier’s current CPO inventory, visit: https://businessaircraft.bombardier.com/en/aircraft/pre-owned