The stars look to be aligning for Bombardier to net a CSeries order with a Chinese airline customer. The dots are beginning to bleed together. Two weeks ago, Bombardier CEO Pierre Beaudoin said he expected orders from both China and Qatar this year, setting the stage for an expansion of the new narrowbody's orderbook.
Last week, Shenyang Aircraft Corporation broke ground on its 226,000 sq. ft. facility that will build the center and aft aluminum-lithium fuselage sections. On Tuesday, CDB Leasing Co. announced it will finance $3.85 billion in pre-delivery payments and leasing services for all models of Bombardier aircraft in China, including CSeries. And just today, Bombardier announced it is in "advanced talks" with a handful of potential customers. If nothing else, it appears the groundwork could be laid for an Asian CSeries launch customer.
There's no indication at the moment that any Canadian export financing would come into play for a Chinese CSeries order, but if it does, look for ratcheted rhetoric from Boeing and Airbus as the duopoly sees a playing field tilted away from itself.
In today's Bombardier earnings call, COO Guy Hachey discussed the latest progress on the CS100, targeting the second quarter (April-June) for design freeze and commencement of the detailed design phase of the aircraft's development. The airframer also announced Tuesday that it has begun testing of the 3/4 span pre-production demonstrator (TOP) in Belfast, which was creating using a Resin Transfer Infusion (RTI) process.
On the engine front, Pratt & Whitney's PW1524G (PW1000G) will begin ground testing in the third quarter (July-September). Before that happens, P&W will complete definition of the materials inside the PW1000G, including the fan blades, which recently survived bird strike testing.*** That ground testing will follow with flight testing on the company's 747SP starting in the first or second quarter of 2011 for certification of the engine.
Photo Credit Bombardier
***P&W says that the fan blades on the GTF are more bird strike resistant because they spin slower as enabled by the gear assembly, resulting in a lower total kinetic energy in the collision.