Bombardier outlines its plans for ‘son of CSeries’

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Company maintains ambition to beat rivals to market with new generation small jet

Bombardier intends to beat Airbus and Boeing to the new single-aisle replacement market with whatever falls out of its rejigged CSeries studies, despite shelving the project in its original form this January.

“Entry into service is still targeted for the 2010 to 2012 timeframe; that’s still the goal. That provides a buffer before the A320 and 737 replacements happen,” says Bombardier new commercial aircraft programme sales and marketing vice-president Steve Crowley.

“We are retrenching and studying a bit further, and we are not launching at this point, but the CSeries is still very much alive,” says Crowley, who acknowledges that “it was critical we stopped where we did. At the end of the day we at Bombardier and Pratt & Whitney [Canada] decided it probably wasn’t the right airplane.”

Speaking at the Speednews supplier conference in Los Angeles last week, Crowley said that although there is consensus on the massive potential of the 100- to 149-seat segment, which it estimates at 6,000 aircraft worth $250 billion over the next 20 years, “we can’t rush it into service because there will be three viable alternatives from Airbus, Boeing and Embraer”. He added that “if we get it wrong it will spell absolute disaster for us, which is another reason why we’ve slowed it down”.

Confirming earlier reports of exploring links with the Sukhoi-led 70-100 seat Russian Regional Jet programme, as well as possible industrial links with China, Crowley says: “We are looking for key partnerships in Asia, China and Russia that provide us with resources as well as market opportunities. I’d be surprised if we ventured out and launched this programme alone,” he adds.

The new study phase, which is expected to last from 12-18 months, is being conducted by a smaller team that is now incorporated into a new business unit of Bombardier called Aircraft Services and New Commercial Aircraft Programme.

guy norris / los angeles