Airbus and Boeing calm about potential CSeries threat

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A irbus and Boeing are relaxed  about any threat the Bombardier CSeries might bring to their incumbent single-aisle families, despite Bombardier's securing initial contracts for the 110/130-seat aircraft.

Bombardier is offering the geared turbofan-powered twin-jet for delivery from late 2013 and is aiming at the lower end of the mainline airliner market occupied by the smaller members of the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 families. It claims CSeries will offer a 15% cash operating cost advantage over today's aircraft.

"I'm not losing any sleep over it," says Stuart Mann, Airbus director of A320 family product marketing. "The CSeries is a niche aircraft that competes at the bottom end of our market, and we can react commercially to it."

Boeing's managing director of capital markets development, Kostya Zolotusky, says that Bombardier has "some really fantastic challenges to address with the CSeries to be successful".

He adds that while the Pratt & Whitney PW1000G engine "will do some things very well", he points out that the engine's configuration means it has a bigger fan, which creates more drag, and that the gear-drive system has a weight penalty.

Mann plays down talk that Airbus is seriously considering developing a PW1000G-powered A320 update after its flight-test evaluation of the engine undertaken last year with P&W.

"We flight-tested the geared turbofan on an A340, and now everybody thinks we've got a programme to install it on the A320," he says. "We're still working with P&W to understand the results, but we do not have a programme to install the engine on the A320."

Mann emphasises that the geared turbofan test was part of Airbus' research into potential engine technology for the next single-aisle family. "We hope we can do some flight-testing of other people's engines to broaden our research about powerplants for the next-generation aircraft."