Phase 2 talks on Bombardier-Comac collaboration begin cautiously

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Bombardier is cautiously negotiating terms for the second phase of its collaboration agreement with Comac after coming away slightly disappointed with efforts to increase the technical commonality of the C919 and CSeries.

The second phase of the two-year-old memorandum of understanding between the two manufacturers is focused on launching a joint marketing campaign with the 168-seat C919 and the 100- to 160-seat family of CSeries jets, says Bombardier Aerospace president Guy Hachey, speaking to analysts and investors on 21 March.

"We're saying, 'We want to work with you'," says Hachey . "We'll see how you can help us in your market and we'll help you in other markets."

Hachey added that he would meet with Comac officials for discussions scheduled only hours after he completed his presentation to the analysts and investors.

However, Hachey also sought to downplay any concerns that Bombardier might lose more than it gains by collaborating too loosely with the Chinese airframer.

"With Comac we're being a little careful," Hachey says. "We're not giving our first born and we're not spending an enormous amount of money."

He also emphasized that Bombardier's strategy in China is not solely dependent on the success of the collaboration agreement with Comac. The strategy also includes working with China's state-owned aerospace company AVIC, Chinese financial institutions and the nation's air transport regulatory officials.

Hachey points to the sale last year of CRJ900s to China Express Airlines as a sign that the company's strategy is working, as that was the first order by a Chinese airline for Bombardier regional jets in seven years.

Bombardier and Comac signed the first phase of the MOU to pursue commonality between the C919 and CSeries family in areas of supply chain services, electrical systems, human interface and cockpit. That initial phase has now concluded, but not quite to Bombardier's satisfaction.

"We were successful in moving the ball, but probably not as much as we'd like," Hachey says.