Bombardier is ready for a showdown with any of its rivals if they decide to move forward with re-engined narrowbodies, claiming its CSeries twinjet will retain a significant competitive advantage.
Speaking during the Dublin leg of its CSeries roadshow, where the Pratt & Whitney PW1000G GTF-powered twinjet was presented to the aviation finance community, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft president Gary Scott said that the company had "always imagined that Airbus and Boeing might re-engine, but we believe that we have a nice window of opportunity with the only all-new airplane".
The company claims a 20% fuel burn advantage over the current competition, which comes "roughly half each" from the engine and airframe, Scott says.
"So if they put the same engine on their airframe then they'll probably cut that advantage in half, but they won't have the new airplane that we have and it won't be optimally designed," he adds.
Since the flurry of launch orders, the CSeries has been through a barren sales patch and Scott acknowledges that the current market uncertainties over how and when the rivals will respond to the CSeries has given airlines other options to consider.
"When the other manufacturers talk about re-engining it causes the airlines to ask 'will you commit to it' and 'when can you deliver it?'," he says.
He says the other airframers face a number of issues when considering a re-engining. "It will cannibalise the backlogs for their current models as customers will want to swap to the new version. There is also a [negative] impact on the residual values of the installed fleet."
Scott also believes that the idea of a re-engined interim aircraft with a 10-year lifespan before all new single-aisle replacements arrive from Airbus and Boeing may be a difficult idea to sell to many potential customers. "At some point Airbus and Boeing are going to have to re-invent their single-aisles, and they are not likely to be a lot like the ones they have today. So the airlines have to face choices: do they go with an all-new technology airplane from Bombardier today; do they go with a re-engined aircraft for 10 years, or do they wait for the new [Airbus/Boeing] airplane?"
The CSeries is approaching the end of the joint definition phase, with detailed design due to start in the coming months.
First flight is due in 2012, with deliveries set to start in late 2013.