Albuquerque is the US location shortlisted as potential assembly line for CSeries

Bombardier has begun clarifying plans for the proposed new CSeries narrowbody family, settling on a precise seat configuration, a core group of suppliers, and the shortlist of potential assembly line locations.

Details of the CSeries programme are finally taking shape during the final phase of a roughly 18-month evaluation period. Bombardier's board is due in March to decide whether to proceed with the new family. If approved, a formal launch would follow at the Paris air show in June, says Gary Scott, president of Bombardier's new commercial aircraft programme, speaking exclusively to Flight International.

Scott says that a bid by Albuquerque, New Mexico, beat off several competing US cities, to be selected as the US offer for the CSeries final assembly site. It will now be considered alongside offers from Ontario and Quebec at the March board meeting.

Bombardier has narrowed the configuration to 110-seat and 130-seat versions, with each size comprising a short- and long-range variant offering 3,330km (1,800nm) and 5,550km range, respectively.

Bombardier has signed "collaborator agreements" with 30 Tier 1 suppliers after narrowing down a list of 120 interested companies, says Scott. If the programme proceeds, this core group will not be guaranteed a contract, but their place in the programme will be "theirs to lose".

Suppliers are expected to finance about one-third of the development costs, with Bombardier and participating governments evenly splitting the rest. Although Scott declined to list all 30 suppliers on board, he cited one collaborator agreement signed with Rockwell Collins for the avionics system. Scott adds the deal would not preclude competing bids from Honeywell or Thales.

The CSeries cockpit would break from the Bombardier aircraft mould with Airbus-like sidestick fly-by-wire flight controls for the pilot, says Scott, adding that the sidestick system reduces the length of the cockpit by 15cm (6in) compared with centre-yoke controls.

Composite materials would comprise 20% of the proposed CSeries jets, says Scott, including the horizontal and vertical stabilisers, floor beams and aft pressure bulkhead. However, Bombardier has rejected an all-composite fuselage design similar to the Boeing 7E7 (now the 787). "They [Boeing] don't know what they don't know, and we don't want to be out there first with them," says Scott, a former Boeing and CAE executive.

Bombardier, which is clarifying propulsion needs with General Electric and International Aero Engines, believes a "clean-slate" development would be a "more optimal solution", says Scott.


Source: Flight International