Bombardier has formed a separate business unit to manage its New Commercial Aircraft Programme (NCAP), another sign of the scope and seriousness of its study of the market for a new family of airliners in the 100-plus passenger category. The move is part of a wider reorganisation of Bombardier Aerospace into four business units focused on improving customer service and financial accountability and reducing bureaucracy and costs.

John Holding, head of product development for Bombardier Aerospace, has moved to the new business unit to lead the engineering effort on the NCAP, now in the evaluation phase with a decision scheduled for early 2005. Holding has overseen development and certification of many Bombardier aircraft, most recently the CRJ700/900 and Dash 8 Q400 derivative regional aircraft and all-new Challenger 300 and Global Express business jets.

The NCAP business unit is led by president Gary Scott, a former Boeing executive involved in the launch of the Next Generation 737, who was hired away from Canadian simulator manufacturer CAE. The rest of the management team will be announced within weeks.

Formation of a separate business unit underlines the fact the new aircraft will not be a regional jet. "It is not a regional aircraft, it is a family of commercial aircraft in that market just above regional jets and below 130 seats, where we see a very strong opportunity," the company says. It describes as "speculation" analyst reports that Bombardier wants to limit its share of the C$1.5-2 billion ($1.1-1.5 billion) development cost to C$500 million, with government providing 25% of the funding and risk-sharing partners the rest. Bombardier is in "very preliminary" discussions with potential partners, including engine suppliers, and expects to say more within weeks. All Bombardier plants have been invited to bid for assembly of the aircraft including Shorts in Belfast, which could seek UK government launch aid. The NCAP is intended to offer operating cost savings of 15% over existing aircraft in the 100-130-seat range.

Creation of the NCAP division is part of a restructuring that includes the creation of another new business unit, Aircraft Services, headed by airline veteran Mike McQuay. The Business Aircraft and Regional Aircraft divisions, previously responsible for marketing and selling, but not manufacturing and completion, have been given their own engineering and manufacturing resources and responsibility for their aircraft through to delivery.


Source: Flight International