Bombardier to examine commercial aircraft production rates

Washington DC
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Bombardier plans to evaluate its commercial aircraft production rates to determine if its planned output levels are sustainable.

For its fiscal year 2011 Bombardier delivered a total of 97 commercial aircraft - 56 Q400 turboprops and 41 CRJ family aircraft.

Bombardier's current production backlog for the CRJ family is currently 23 months compared with 33 months at the end of the company's fiscal third quarter. The airframer's current production backlog for the Q400 is 13 months.

For each programme Bombardier states an ideal production backlog timeframe is roughly 20 months.

Bombardier Aerospace president Guy Hachey explained during a 31 March earnings call the company is faced with a short-term problem with the Q400, explaining a lot of the backlog for the type was "chewed up" during the economic downturn. Hachey says the current four-day production rate is "pretty aggressive" and Bombardier is looking very carefully at that level of production.

The airframer is aggressively going after a couple of Q400 campaigns, says Hachey, but the timing of the campaigns is not favourable to support current production rates. Taking that into account Hachey states Bombardier might want to develop a conservative approach, and not take a risk by building whitetail aircraft.

Customers continue to be interested a larger Q400 turboprop, says Hachey. But he declines to commit to any timeframe for a decision to move forward on a 90-seat variant stating Bombardier is "tackling many projects in aerospace" including the CSeries, the Learjet 85, and the new Global 7000 and 8000 large business jet programmes.

"We have a lot on our plate," Hachey says. "We have to take that into consideration in addition to market consideration."

Bombardier expects to deliver 90 commercial aircraft for the 11-month period ending 31 December 2011.