Bombardier Commercial Aircraft president Gary Scott says he is not surprised that Embraer is eyeing possible development of a five-abreast aircraft and believes such studies further endorse the Canadian airframer's own decision to provide a five-abreast aircraft optimized for the 100- to 145-seat market.
"What it says to me is that first of all they [Embraer] agree that the optimal cross section for an airplane in the 100- to 145-seat market is five abreast and so that's again part of the reason why [the CSeries is] 12,000lb less than an [Airbus] A319. And secondly, I think they also believe, but are waiting for Boeing to confirm it, that Airbus and Boeing are going to concentrate above 145 seats," said Scott.
Earlier this month Embraer CEO Frederico Curado said the Brazilian manufacturer could pursue "a couple of strategies" once Boeing has detailed its single-aisle replacement plans and the competitive landscape is clearer. These include stretching the E-Jets "to get a little bit more size on our brand and then our strategy would be to develop a brand new aircraft, probably a five-abreast aircraft, if we perceive a more vacant space in that area".
It was hoped that Boeing would clarify its position on a new narrowbody at the Paris air show, but CEO Jim McNerney yesterday poured cold water on such expectations, saying a decision would be taken in the next nine months. Boeing has, however, indicated it will focus its product development studies around an aircraft "modestly bigger" than today's 145- to 180-seat 737-700 and -800.
Airbus, meanwhile, is offering a New Engine Option (neo) for its A319, A320 and A321 airliners. Operators can select between Pratt & Whitney's geared turbofan or CFM International's Leap-X.
Bombardier's Scott points out that Embraer "sees us as being alone in the market segment. So I guess it doesn't surprise me that they're thinking about coming in. We've always thought that other airframe manufacturers might enter into this market segment."
The 110-seat Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan-powered CSeries CS100 is expected to enter into service at the end of 2013, followed one year later by the 130-seat CS300. Scott said: "We're glad that we launched two-and-a-half years ago. We're glad that we're going to be first into the market. We're glad that people seem to be endorsing our size, our technology so we'll have a big head start."