Bombardier took the offensive on the eve of the 2015 Paris air show, announcing that its flagship CSeries aircraft will have even better performance than the company had previously predicted.
The CS100 and CS300, both of which are making their debut at the show, will have a range of 3,300nm (6,112km), which is 350nm more than previously listed in the Montreal-based company’s specification sheets for the types.
“We are actually beating the initial brochure for this aircraft, which is a huge endorsement of this programme,” says Fred Cromer, president of Bombardier Commercial Aircraft. “The performance is better on the fuel burn side, payload, range and other performance targets. Also, the airfield performance is exceeding the original target.”
Cromer and other top executives used the updated figures to inject optimism into a programme that was dogged by earlier flight test delays and overshadowed in recent months by a management shakeup.
The CSeries was notably absent from the 2014 Farnborough air show after problems with the type’s Pratt & Whitney PW1500G geared turbofan resulted in a 100-day grounding, halting flight tests.
The company is showcasing both a 110-seat CS100 and a 135-seat CS300 during the Paris air show, with the CS100 on static display and the CS300 kicking off daily flying displays.
That visibility comes as Bombardier continues striving to reach a goal of securing 300 firm CSeries orders by the time the first CS100 enters service with Swiss International Airlines, scheduled for early 2016.
Orders currently stand at 243.
Executives shied from discussing price, but insist performance will drive sales in a market they call ripe with potential.
“Airlines will take aircraft based on their merits,” says Colin Bole, Bombardier’s newly hired top commercial aircraft salesman. “We are emphasising the product itself, rather than other factors.”
Bole declines to say if Bombardier will announce new orders at the show, saying the company will not “be pushed” into making deals. “We will finalise transactions when they are right,” he says.
But Bole, a former ILFC executive, sees potential demand from both major carriers – conspicuously absent from the order book – and from lessors.
“We are going to focus on some big airlines in the near future,” he says, adding that Bombardier’s newly-hired management team has “significant exposure on the leasing side”.
Bole predicts demand exists for 5,700 aircraft in the 60- to 100-seat segment, and 7,000 aircraft in the 100 to 150-seat range, within the next 20 years.
“Due to the capability of available aircraft, we feel there is a significant gap and significant need to replace lower-gauge aircraft,” he says.
In addition to Bole, Bombardier recent management shakeup included the hiring of Cromer – also ILFC alumni – and naming Alain Bellemare the new chief executive.
That team brings a “new mindset and new vision” to the CSeries programme, says Cromer.
Bombardier took a leap when it abandoned plans some 14 years ago to develope a large regional jet dubbed the BRJ-X, choosing instead to focus on the CSeries, an aircraft the company saw as filling a niche between large regionals and small narrowbodies.
Airbus and Boeing quickly responded with projects to re-engine their narrowbodies. Airbus now has 49 orders for A319neo and Boeing has 60 orders for its 737 Max 7 – the models that most directly compete with the CSeries.
Bole downplays risks posed by those types, saying the type’s larger cross-sections and heavier weight make them less efficient.
"They have very good productions for the upper range of the market,” he says. “We feel our competition does not necessarily have the right answer for the 100- to 150-seat market,” Bole says.
Source: Cirium Dashboard