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Bombardier hits the road with CSeries message

Bombardier has launched an international CSeries roadshow to demonstrate how it intends to make good on its promised efficiencies for the Pratt & Whitney PW1000G geared turbofan-powered jetliner, and to ease any concerns about the programme's execution.

A wide cross-section of North American airlines and lessors gathered late in October in New York for the first leg of the CSeries roadshow, where they had a chance to handle some of the lightweight composite and aluminium-lithium materials being used on the 110/130-seat CSeries.

Airlines, leasing companies and financiers "have heard about the benefits" of the CSeries, says Bombardier Commercial Aircraft vice-president marketing Philippe Poutissou. "Now we want to give them the confidence moving forward. Part of having to make it more real is to introduce the physical elements."

Management is also keen to assure would-be CSeries buyers that the Canadian manufacturer will execute the programme on time and without the supply chain headaches experienced by Airbus and Boeing on the delayed 787 and A380, respectively. The twinjet is due to enter service in 2013.

Bombardier CSeries Bombardier 
 © Bombardier

"[Airlines are] very concerned. I would actually say it's their number one concern now," says Bombardier Commercial Aircraft president Gary Scott. "Now they're very worried about our ability to deliver the airplane on time and working with our integrated supply chain."

China's Shenyang Aircraft is making the aluminium-lithium fuselage and doors for the CSeries as well as the tail-cone structure.

Bombardier's UK unit in Belfast, which will develop and manufacture the CSeries wings using a unique resin transfer infusion process, is working with Shenyang on the design of the wing-to-fuselage wingbox. Initially this section will be made in Belfast, but production will later shift to China.

Scott notes that the company's integrated supply chain model has been used on Bombardier's clean-sheet Global Express and Challenger 300 business jets, as well as the 70-seat CRJ700 regional jet.

He says Bombardier has "experience in working with an integrated supply chain and managing the different mandates of our suppliers and ourselves, and we've learned from that. So, we have a lot of ways, more experience, than say Boeing has on the 787."

One traditional practice that Bombardier will forgo for the CSeries is the building of a prototype aircraft for flight testing. "We are not building a prototype. All [five test aircraft] will be sold. Those who buy that airplane will probably get a discount," says Scott.

Bombardier's CSeries roadshow will be travelling to Asia, Europe and the Middle East in the coming months. The airframer, meanwhile, is relatively optimistic it will secure another CSeries order before the end of its fiscal year on 31 January 2010.

"There is a reasonable chance that we could announce another order before the end of the year," says Scott, who now believes that as many as 50% of all CSeries orders will be placed by lessors.

He says Bombardier is also receiving a lot of attention from the business aviation community for a VIP version of the Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan-powered jetliner. "It makes a very good VIP aircraft. We have not launched it, and have no orders for it, but we have a lot of interest for it. We will no doubt build one," adds the Bombardier executive.

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