Where does CSeries fit in Chinese puzzle?
What does Bombardier's tie-up with China's AVIC I on development a stretched version of the ARJ21 regional jet mean for the CSeries? Good news - perhaps. By linking with the Chinese on the 105-seat ARJ21-900, the Canadian manufacturer could buy itself time to do a better job its own 110- to 130-seat airliner. It also secures a partner in market that could prove huge for the CSeries - if it is ever developed.
The CSeries is Bombardier's second attempt at breaking into the 100-seat-plus market. Its 80- to 120-seat BRJ-X was shelved in 2000 in favour of stretching the CRJ700 into the CRJ900. Hindsight suggests the five-abreast BRJ-X would have struggled to be competitive with Embraer's four-abreast E-170/190 family, and Bombardier has wrestled with similar issues in defining a marketable CSeries.
The issue is technology, and the rapid changes now under way. Design of the CSeries was begun before Boeing raised the bar on composites use and overnight raised airlines' expectations on efficiency. As it has held off launching the CSeries, Bombardier has updated the design, switching to a composite wing and flirting with a composite fuselage to reduce weight.
But its biggest problem remains finding an engine. And here the delays might help.