Bombardier replaces vice-president of sales for commercial aircraft

MONTREAL – Bombardier says the hiring of a new chief salesman for commercial aircraft is not a recognition of problems with orders for its new CSeries airplane.

The Montreal-based manufacturer says Chet Fuller is leaving at year-end to pursue other unspecified career opportunities, three years after joining the aircraft manufacturer from GE Aviation.

Fuller is being replaced by Raymond Jones, who for the last decade has been vice-president, Worldwide Strategic Accounts, for Bombardier’s business aircraft.

Spokesman Marc Duchesne said Bombardier is “satisfied” with the 419 orders and commitments from 16 customers for the new 110- to 160-seat airplane, including 177 firm orders. The company hopes to have 300 firm orders from more than 20 customers when first deliveries start in about a year.

At the time he was hired in November 2010, Bombardier said Fuller would bring a “fresh perspective” as head of the sales and marketing teams tasked with selling the new CSeries airplane. He initially reported to Gary Scott, who retired in 2011.

Bombardier (TSX:BBD.B) said Jones brings “solid experience and insight” to his new role.

“With a proven record of success at Bombardier Business Aircraft, notably with large fleet operators, Ray also has a truly international background,” said Mike Arcamone, president, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft.

“I am confident he will bring a global perspective to his new role and will lead the commercial aircraft sales and marketing team to open new markets around the world.”

A certified commercial pilot, Jones spent 16 years with Britain’s Royal Air Force.

The lack of many new orders for the CSeries of late has prompted industry observers to question the CSeries sales effort. But Bombardier Aerospace CEO Guy Hachey told an aerospace conference that Bombardier is pursuing the right balance not to give overly generous early discounts because its production slots are almost filled for three years.

Bombardier has said it may get around severe winter weather in Quebec by conducting some flight tests of its new CSeries commercial aircraft in the United States, at the same location where its new Learjet 85 business jet is set for its maiden flight in the coming weeks.

Seven Bombardier CSeries planes are in various stages of assembly, including the first aircraft set for delivery, which will have its wings joined to the fuselage in January.