Bombardier's Beaudoin steps up CSeries defence

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Bombardier's CEO Pierre Beaudoin is sharpening his tone as he makes the case for Canadian airframer's 110 to 149-seat jet, dismissing "naysayers" who doubt the CSeries will come to market on time, if at all.

"As of today," said Beaudoin in a 16 February speech at the Wings Club in New York City, "We continue to drive for first delivery at the end of 2013."

Citing more than 300 firm orders, options and purchase rights, Beaudoin dismissed criticism from Boeing and Airbus regarding the timing of the CSeries and its readiness for service, alluding to each airframer's lack of credibility for delivering its new products on schedule: "I'm not going to try to defend the track record of the two largest manufacturers."

"Sub-assemblies are streaming in the door at [the Complete Integrated Aircraft System Test Area (CIASTA)] where we have gone from being a virtual aircraft to a real one. We are building our first test vehicle in Mirabel, and systems integration and commissioning are going even better than we had expected," said Beaudoin.

Bombardier activated the CIASTA when it commissioned its first block of systems in late-December 2011, which included its aircraft's flight deck pedestal, throttle quadrant and Full Digital Authority Engine Control (FADEC) software, connected to generators and dummy engines.

Beaudoin also took a moment to openly criticise the re-engining strategies of Boeing and Airbus as insufficient.

In the past, Bombardier has shied away from taking aim at the 160-seat current and re-engined A320 and 737-800, which make up the bulk of Airbus and Boeing narrowbody sales, citing their competition in the higher seat count market above the 110 to 149-seat CSeries.

"Some may believe that re-engined aircraft with a 30-year-old design will be good enough. We see the future differently at Bombardier. We believe that "good enough" is not what operators expect or need in this segment, especially considering the airlines' tight margins," said Beaudoin.

"We embrace this debate as a crucial stepping stone to the desired outcome of constructive change. We are convinced-and so are a growing number of operators- that the CSeries is a viable instrument of this positive change [for the industry]," he added.

Remaining confident, Beaudoin acknowledged that "what is keeping him up at night" was a concern about balancing the push and pressure to get the most from the company's teams and suppliers while ensuring that it does not hamper their willingness to bring forward potential problems.

In a small press gathering on the sidelines of the event following his speech, Beaudoin responded to Republic Airways CEO Bryan Bedford comments after he raised concerns over the viability of the CSeries programme and its relative lack of sales, echoing similar concerns of Korean Air senior vice president of planning, Walter Cho.

Republic is "committed to the CSeries, they're excited about its performance, they follow the programme day in and day out and they understand the performance is there, so, for me, that's what I focus on," he said.

Beaudoin said Guy Hachey, president and chief operating officer of Bombardier Aerospace, contacted Bedford to allay and address his apprehension.

"It's a firm order and they're committed to going through with the programme," he said of Republic's order for 40 CS300 aircraft.