Airlines tell Bombardier it's all about programme execution

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After years of accumulated delays by the Boeing 787 and Airbus A380, airlines tell Bombardier that on-time programme execution and supply chain management are their highest concerns for the CSeries programme.

"[Airlines are] very concerned. I would actually say it's their number one concern now," Bombardier commercial aircraft president Gary Scott told journalists at a briefing in New York on 23 October.

"Now they're very worried about our ability to deliver the airplane on time and working with our integrated supply chain," adds Scott.

Scott says that airlines initially came to the company concerned about the integration of all the new technology on the company's new narrowbody CSeries aircraft, and specifically Pratt & Whitney's new PW1000G geared turbofan engine, for which Bombardier is the launch customer.

"I think they're getting very comfortable with our ability to integrate all the new technology on this platform and the ability of Pratt & Whitney to deliver on all their promises on the geared turbofan," says Scott.

The Bombardier executive identifies three key areas that Bombardier is using to illustrate how CSeries will be different from the botched execution of the Boeing 787 and Airbus A380, after design and supply chain issues led to years of delays on both programmes.

First, Scott says, Bombardier has "experience in working with an integrated supply chain and managing the different mandates of our suppliers and ourselves, and we've learned from that. So, we have a lot of ways, more experience, than say a Boeing has on the 787."

Scott notes that the company's integrated supply chain model has been used on Bombardier's clean sheet Global Express and Challenger 300 business jets, as well as the passenger 70-seat CRJ700 regional jet.

The second point, says Scott who is a veteran of Boeing 737 and 747 commercial airplane programmes, is that Bombardier is "benefitting from all the trials and tribulations of Boeing and their suppliers, because many of their suppliers are on [CSeries] also, so they point out all the lessons learned and we're applying that to our programme."

Lastly, Scott points to the schedule for developing the 100 to 125-seat CS100 and larger 120 to 145-seat CS300 aircraft.

"We were very careful in not overcommitting to a schedule, particularly when you look at all the new technologies that are going on the programme," says Scott. "If you take a look at the 787, when they launched this all-new technology airplane, they said they could get it certified and delivered in 48 months, which was a huge challenge. Their past history would not suggest they could do that, nor would anybody else's."

Scott says Bombardier is operating on a 63-month schedule and a flight test programme of longer than a year.

The CSeries is currently in the joint definition phase, the second of three design phases for the aircraft, prior to moving into detailed design ahead of engineering releases and full scale manufacturing.

In addition, Bombardier hopes to retire technical risk early on with the implementation of the CSeries' Complete Integrated Aircraft System Test Area (CIASTA) in Mirabel, Montreal. Bombardier says CIASTA will will provide 2000-hours of testing of aircraft systems before first flight of the CS100.

Bombardier's focus on programme execution, Scott says, has led the company to create integrated product development teams in Montreal, as well as create new processes and systems bolstering supplier relationships.

Scott holds weekly programme integration review meetings with suppliers, customers, designers, as well as personnel from Bombardier's sales and marketing teams.

"This is all about transparency, there are no secrets," he said of the constant internal debate and discussion surrounding CSeries design. The good news about full transparency is you have a clear view of everything that's going on, good and bad. The bad news is you have a clear view of everything that's going on. You have to learn to live with it," says Scott.

Bombardier plans to have the CS100 enter service in 2013.