Airbus A320 NEO with GTF ‘still can’t beat the CSeries’: Bombardier

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A re-engined Airbus narrowbody "still can't beat the CSeries" even if the European airframer picks the same Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan (GTF) technology for re-engining, a top Bombardier executive said today.

Airbus is currently evaluating the CFM International Leap-X and P&W GTF as optional powerplants for its proposed A320 new engine option (NEO). Bombardier believes it can destroy the business case for the the A320 NEO with the CSeries.

Speaking to ATI and Flightglobal following a Bombardier media briefing at the Regional Airline Association (RAA) convention in Milwaukee, Bombardier vice-president commercial aircraft programmes Ben Boehm said: "The fact that they [Airbus] keep mentioning the GTF is a reversal in what they used to say, and makes us even more confident we've made the right [engine] choice for the CSeries."

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When Bombardier was first designing the CSeries, says Boehm, the Canadian manufacturer looked at every possible reaction from the market including the "worse case scenario" where a major airframer would design a clean sheet aircraft with new engine technology such as the GTF. Airbus and Boeing have yet to decide on successors to their respective narrowbody programmes.

Bombardier Commercial Aircraft vice president, marketing Philippe Poutissou notes that the GTF "is only a piece of the optimised design" of the CSeries, "which includes an airframe specifically designed for the 100- to 150-seat market".

"Our wing, engine and landing gear combo is optimised to get maximum benefit of ultra-high bypass of the engine," he says. In order to take full advantage of that 12:1 bypass ratio, "you need to design the wing, the wing mounting structure and you need to give yourself a clean sheet design".

Boehm also points out that Airbus appears to be focused on re-engining "larger aircraft, such as the A320 and A321", which do not compete with the 110/130-seat CSeries.

Asked if Bombardier will bring a larger-capacity CSeries to market, Poutissou says: "At this point our programme is really the two models. We're really focused on delivering the two models [CS100 and CS300]."

To date, Bombardier has secured 90 firm orders and 90 options for the CSeries. A total 40 of these firm orders and 40 options were recently placed by US operator Republic Airways.

Bombardier "clearly sees lots of potential" for attracting more CSeries customers in North America, says Poutissou, as "there hasn't been a new aircraft in that segment for a number of years".