Bombardier stays tight-lipped on powerplant options as more details of small mainline jet plan are revealed

Bombardier is fleshing out its marketing strategy and engineering plans for the CSeries family of small mainline airliners amid continued uncertainty over its powerplant options.

The Canadian manufacturer is basing its proposals to potential launch customers around a new centreline engine common to all four members of the aircraft family, but it refuses to specify which powerplant solutions are under consideration.

"It's a very complex situation," said John Holding, Bombardier executive vice-president integrated product definition and planning for the CSeries, speaking at last week's UK Royal Aeronautical Society Aerospace 2005 conference in London. "But we wouldn't be going out and offering this aircraft to airlines if we didn't have proposals from engine suppliers that meet our requirements. We're confident that we do," he added.

The CSeries family includes standard- and extended-range versions of a baseline, two-class 110-seat aircraft and a 130-seat stretch, sandwiching it between the Embraer 170/190 at the lower end and the larger Airbus A320 family and Boeing 737 narrowbodies.

Holding says 6,000 aircraft are serving the 100- to 149-seat market, of which around 4,000 "classics" are forecast to be retired in the next 10-15 years. The phase-out is likely to peak around the CSeries entry-into-service target date of 2010 as many aircraft fall due for expensive heavy maintenance checks. The CSeries is being designed with the aim of enabling airlines to efficiently serve routes as short as 925km (500nm), out to 5,550km.

Bombardier is seeking a cash operating cost reduction of at least 15% compared with competing aircraft, and 99% reliability "out of the box". More than 1,610h of windtunnel testing has been completed and "so far we're very pleased with the results – they're close to where we want to be", says Holding. He expects the industrial launch of the CSeries to be approved "later this summer". First flight of the C110 model is scheduled for the third quarter of 2008.


Source: Flight International