Chinese manufacturer to take over from Mitsubishi under new deal signed at show

China Aviation Industries I (AVIC I) subsidiary Shenyang Aircraft (SAC) has concluded a new supplier deal with Bombardier covering Dash 8 Q400 fuselages. The deal could be extended to include fuselages for the proposed CSeries.

SAC already supplies Bombardier with doors for the Dash 8 Q300. Under a new deal signed at Farnborough, SAC from 2008 will start supplying Bombardier with the aft and forward fuselages of the larger Q400, which is on display at Farnborough. The fuselages are now manufactured by Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI).

SAC president Li Fangyong says "the contract on the Q400 is the result of long discussion on CSeries previously". He says the Chinese manufacturer hopes the deal is "a foundation for future discussion on CSeries".

Flight International reported last December that Bombardier was in talks with SAC and AVIC I over a major risk-sharing role in the CSeries. Bombardier subsequently shelved the CSeries project, but Li says SAC is "still in close contact with Bombardier on the CSeries".

Bombardier president and chief operating officer Pierre Beaudoin confirms a partnership agreement was forged with SAC on the CSeries several months ago, although it was never announced. He says the agreement appoints SAC "the major designer and builder of the airframe".

Beaudoin says Bombardier is confident SAC and other suppliers Bombardier secured last year for the CSeries will be participants if and when the programme is launched. "The suppliers are still committed," he says.

Bombardier says it is still studying the CSeries, but declines to provide a timeframe on a launch decision.

AVIC I senior vice-president Hu Wenming says the CSeries deal with SAC includes funding support from the Shenyang city and the Linyang provincial governments. Hu declines to say if the federal government has also agreed to provide financial support, but he insists there is no overlap between AVIC I's ARJ21 large regional jet and the CSeries.

"We don't see conflict between ARJ21 and CSeries," Hu says, arguing that the CSeries will seat 130 passengers. The initial ARJ21-700 will seat 90 passengers and is scheduled to enter service in late 2009.

Flight International reported in December 2004 that MHI was looking to offload its work on the Q400 to other Asian manufacturers to make room for Boeing 787 wing production.

Bombardier vice-president for engineering and supply chain Jean Seguin says that Bombardier and MHI have since negotiated an end to their relationship on the Q400.

Source: Flight International