Bombardier, Comac make progress on co-operation pact

Beijing
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Bombardier and Comac have identified seven areas where the two companies have the potential to find commonality on their CSeries and C919 narrowbody programmes.

"We're now working toward some definitive agreements, but the timeline has yet to be determined," said Ben Boehm, Bombardier's vice-president of international business. "We're progressing."

In March the two companies agreed to examine potential co-operation on their in-development aircraft.

"We're looking for areas in common between the two planes," said Boehm. "If we can work together, then it will be one step easier for an airline to buy a combination of the C919 and CSeries compared to other combinations."

The co-operation framework areas are customer support, marketing, new product derivatives, systems, materials, suppliers, as well as manufacturing technology and processes.

Boehm said the CSeries and C919 share 10 suppliers, including Liebherr (landing gear), Honeywell (APUs) and Rockwell Collins (avionics). "The benefits of commonality focus on how we can mutually become more competitive," said Boehm. "The seven elements of the framework are focused on subject areas where customers see a benefit if there is some similarity between Bombardier and Comac aircraft. If, for example, we both use the same specification of aluminium lithium it could lower costs and alleviate an airline's supply challenges.

"They could hold less stock if both aircraft used the same specification."

Boehm was speaking at Aviation Expo/China 2011 in Beijing. For the first time, Bombardier brought its CSeries cabin mock-up to Asia.

He dismissed the idea that the CSeries and C919 were rivals, because the minimum capacity of the C919 at 160 passengers is well above the maximum 145 that can be accommodated by the CS300.

"The CSeries is for outreach and new opportunities, the C919 operates on trunk/core routes," Boehm said. "Another opportunity is using the C919 for rush hour flights, and then using the CS300 off-peak."

He added that a number of Chinese carriers have shown interest in the CSeries, particularly its ability to operate in the hot and high conditions prevalent in China's west. "All the top airlines here are interested one way or another. Some for one, some for both CSeries aircraft."