MAKS: Ilyushin aims to firm order for up to 30 CSeries this year

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Lessor Ilyushin Finance intends to slot the Bombardier CSeries into the centre of its portfolio, to give it a broad family of aircraft with a degree of commonality.

IFC is intending to firm a letter of intent for up to 30 CSeries aircraft - as early as this year, the Canadian airframer said - and will use the time until then to negotiate with possible Russian customers.

The lessor handed a potential breakthrough deal to Bombardier, with a tentative order for seven CS300s and three CS100s - an entirely new agreement which was originally set to be outlined at Paris in June.

Deliveries of the CS100s would start in mid-2015 and the CS300s the following year. IFC has options and purchase rights on another 20.

IFC general director Alexander Rubtsov told Flightglobal, at the MAKS Moscow air show, that he was confident about taking a risk with the new Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan-powered aircraft.

"One may say we're gamblers by definition, we've been working with Russian aircraft since day one," he said.

Rubtsov pointed out that IFC is building a portfolio of aircraft up to 200 seats, with smaller regional jets, such as the Antonov An-158, up to the Irkut MS-21.

The CSeries, he said, fitted the 110- to 130-seat segment and also had "lots of commonality" with the other types, such as its powerplant and avionics.

"It makes sense to offer a family - even though it's not really a family," said Rubtsov.

IFC is also keen to be involved in after-sales support for the twinjet type, he added.

Bombardier sees room to co-operate with IFC in this area. "We're looking at various partners," said the airframer's commercial aircraft senior vice-president of sales, Chet Fuller. "IFC is potentially one of them."

IFC is the second leasing customer for the CSeries. Fuller said IFC is "the best lessor in Russia", and added: "They're a very sophisticated group, very aware of what they're trying to accomplish.

"Most lessors, while having sufficient technical capability, don't have the depth of capability that IFC has. They're going to be a great partner for CSeries."