Bombardier and Comac have formed a unique partnership to explore commonalities between the CSeries and the C919.
The Canadian airframer says it is sharing its CSeries cockpit design with Comac but the latter will decide how much of it to adapt. One aspect of the duo's collaboration is making the look and feel of the two types' cockpits similar to reduce training and maintenance costs for carriers who buy both aircraft.
"We're saying that if you want to use this design, interface, panels, we'll like to see how we can help you do that," says Andy Solem, Bombardier's vice-president of sales for China and North Asia. "If they don't because they have their own design in place and suppliers lined up, that's their choice. Then we'll see how we can make it more common, whether there are advantages to common sourcing of components, best practice sharing, etc."
First flight of the CSeries is expected in the next few months
He adds that the CSeries is "clearly further along" in development, with a first flight scheduled for end 2012 - although Bombardier has said this could be pushed to early 2013. This means the transfer of commonalities and technology will flow from Bombardier to Comac. The duo is also exploring several other areas of commonality.
"This is the start of a long-term strategic relationship over the next 50 years," says Solem. "If in the first six months they learn a lot more about our cockpit components than we get back, then so be it. In 60 months, it might be a lot different."