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OPINION: Does Bombardier's financial housekeeping go far enough?

Bombardier’s management team has come to terms with the business sins of a string of predecessors.

As a result, nearly half of the CSeries programme now belongs to the government of Quebec. The Learjet 85, meanwhile, now lies in the dustbin of aerospace history, a $2.6 billion mistake Bombardier could ill-afford.

But has new chief executive Alain Bellemare’s nine-month house cleaning gone far enough?

The CSeries programme now has the financial backing it needs to carry the programme to full-rate production in five years, Bellemare says. But there is no further margin for error. Both Airbus and Boeing have paid dearly in recent years for releasing new aircraft before all their systems and suppliers were ready.

Bombardier cannot afford for that to happen on the CSeries. Its supply chain must be ready and prepared to keep parts flowing into the Mirabel final-assembly line on time. And all of the CSeries systems must prove to be as safe and reliable in service as any mature commercial aircraft, or face the consequences of increased regulatory scrutiny.

Bombardier is in no position to absorb the production system breakdowns, in-service groundings and other follies experienced by their much larger competitors in recent years.

Is the CSeries – and Bombardier – ready for the task? Only Bellemare’s team knows the answer.

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