Bombardier is calling a report it is working on a 150-seat version of the 110/130-seat CSeries airliner "speculative", but some analysts believe the airframer would be wise to move forward with a larger-capacity variant of the Pratt & Whitney PurePower PW1000G geared turbofan-powered aircraft.
JP Morgan's Joseph Nadol said the firm believes a 150-seat variant is in the works and that is a key reason why Boeing and Airbus are taking a hard look at re-engining the A320 and 737, respectively.
Teal Group vice-president analysis Richard Aboulafia in an interview today said: "The only way the CSeries makes sense in the long-term is as a bigger family because the 110-seat version doesn't look particularly impressive at all. The 130-seat version looks like it could have something and a 150-seat version looks like it could be a potentially very impressive performer."
Aboulafia shares the view that a move by Bombardier to develop a 150-seater would prompt Airbus and Boeing to respond with re-engined versions of their highly popular narrowbodies. Next generation turbofans are in development by CFM International, Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney, which is powering the CSeries with its geared turbofan.
"When you start losing market share in the 150-seat class, you know you've got to take fast action," says Aboulafia.
Bombardier's stated plan is to develop a 100- to 125-seat CS100 and 120- to 149-seat CS300. The CS100 is expected to enter into service in 2013.
The manufacturer calls the JP Morgan report "speculative". However, a spokesman for the firm notes that the CSeries development programme "is in the joint definition phase where we will be able to add greater product definition and that includes the ability to make changes before the final design is frozen".
Aboulafia, meanwhile, is sceptical about the ability of the CS100 to gain strong market share, saying the aircraft is "a waste of time, partly because the weight numbers look unimpressive at best" and also because "the 100-seat market segment has been a no man's land for decades".
Bombardier holds firm orders for 50 CSeries aircraft, including 30 CS100s destined for Lufthansa unit Swiss International Air Lines. Irish lessor Lease Corporation International (LCI) has ordered three CS100s and 17 CS300s.