Canadian manufacturer set to raise level of support if project for new family of aircraft is given approval by board

Bombardier would elevate its traditional reliability and logistics support standards for a larger, more efficient family of four aircraft if the company's board approves the project by mid-2005, says Gary Scott, president of the company's New Commercial Aircraft (NCA) programme.

The new-start proposal intends to catapult the Canadian business and regional jet manufacturer into the narrowbody market by 2010, offering transcontinental and shorter-range variants in each of two cabin sizes - 110- to 115-seats and 130- to 135-seats, says Scott.

Moreover, all-new engines and technical features should reduce direct operating costs to 20% lower than the ageing Boeing MD-80 and McDonnell Douglas DC-9 and 15% below the newer Airbus/Boeing narrowbody products.

Scott says his four-month-old NCA department is mindful of the higher expectations from mainline and low-cost airlines that form the core of the potential customer base for the new aircraft family.

Regional airlines buying Bombardier CRJs have waited a year or more after delivery in some cases to achieve the industry's benchmark reliability standard of 99%-plus on-time despatch rate. But that metric would have to be achieved immediately for customers in the narrowbody market, says Scott. Bombardier's spare-parts supply and repair systems also may require improvements to achieve customer expectations, he says.

Elevating performance standards, he adds, may drive investments in new logistics bases and customer support resources beyond a projected $2 billion outlay for the NCA development and testing effort.

"We are engaging with our customers and making sure we understand what the requirements are," says Scott. "We understand what it takes to meet their expectations. There has to be 99% dispatch reliability right out of the box. Secondly, we're going to have product-support programmes."

Scott's team is also focused on securing financial backing for the development effort. Ideally, he says, the $2 billion outlay for development would be split equally by Bombardier, risk-sharing development partners and a potential consortium of governments, including Canada, the UK's Northern Ireland government and the USA, he says.



Source: Flight International