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The leaders of the Canadian, Quebec and U.K. governments are providing strong support to Bombardier Commercial Aircraft (BCA) in its aviation trade battle with Boeing, which claims Delta Airlines bought the C Series single-aisle jet at a discounted price supported by government subsidies in Canada.
As news broke on Sept. 12, 2017, that U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May had asked U.S. President Donald Trump to intervene in the dispute, Bombardier was hosting aviation reporters for a full-day inside view of its airline business and its massive CRJ and C Series assembly plant north of Montreal at Mirabel airport.
BCA president Fred Cromer said jobs, innovation and the international supply chain are at the heart of the Boeing-Bombardier trade dispute, adding that more than 50 per cent of the C Series (by value) comes from the United States and the C Series’ all-composite wing, and other components, are made in the U.K. at the company’s plant in Belfast.
“We believe we are in compliance and this aircraft has tremendous value for customers internationally and in the USA,” added Cromer.
Today, the Bombardier product line spans the 60- to 150-seat market with three commercial aircraft families–the Q400, CRJ and C Series–available in different seat capacities to maximize passengers and increase yields.
Bombardier said the key to C Series sales is convincing airlines to right-size their fleets and focus on revenue per passenger, not lowest seat costs.
New Q400 baseline configuration
At the recent Paris Air Show, the Q400 secured a letter of intent (LOI) from SpiceJet for up to 50 aircraft, as well as an agreement for the exercise of seven Q400 purchase rights from Philippine Airlines and an LOI for two aircraft from CemAir of South Africa.
On Sept. 12, Bombardier announced a new cabin standard with a baseline configuration of 82 seats with the removal of the forward baggage compartment and service door and the addition of three exterior windows on the starboard side.
The interior change offers more choice in cabin configuration. For example, the Q400 is available with a 74-seat business/economy cabin; 82- or 90-seat single class seats, or as a “combi” with 50 seats in the front and a 1,150-square-foot (106 square-metre), 9,000-pound (4,082-kilogram) cargo compartment in the rear.
Bombardier has driven down Q400 operating costs by increasing maintenance intervals to 800 hours for an “A” check and 8,000 hours for a “C” check.
Now it plans to reduce Q400 manufacturing costs by seeking a new lower cost supplier for the Q400 cockpit and wings currently built in Toronto, with the outsourcing previously approved by its unions.
New CRJ Family interior
Bombardier also revealed its new generation “Atmosphere” interior for the CRJ700/900/1000 to be introduced in the last half of 2018.
The new interior provides a more elegant, sleek and functional passenger experience and also opens up the front of the cabin near the passenger door. Key features include larger overhead bins and new sidewall and seat colours and mood lighting.
Bombardier is also introducing an optional passenger with reduced mobility (PRM) lavatory on the CRJ that is 60 per cent larger, easier to clean and ergonomically designed. Other new CRJ options include Wi-Fi in the cabin, in-seat power and air to ground (ATG) in-flight Internet and satellite connectivity.
C Series gains momentum
It has been 15 months since the first 125-seat Bombardier CS100 entered revenue passenger service with Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) and nine months since the first 145-seat CS300 entered service with airBaltic. It has also been five weeks since SWISS became the first airline in the world to offer C Series flights to and from London City Airport.
Reliable from day one, there are aircraft now flying up to 10 legs and 17 flight hours per day.
On Sept. 12, Bombardier revealed the Pratt & Whitney PW1500G-powered aircraft is burning up to three per cent less fuel than 2016 brochure values, offering additional savings.
Today, there are 18 C Series aircraft in service with SWISS (11 aircraft) and Air Baltic (seven) with fleets serving more than 100 routes, flying 1.5 million passengers, logging 16,000 revenue flights, and up to 100 revenue trips a day.
SWISS CS100s are now the largest aircraft and quietest serving London City Airport, offering 25 per cent more seats and 275 per cent more range from the downtown airport’s short single 1,500-metre (4,900-foot) runway, which has a 5.5 degree steep approach.
Soon, airBaltic will start flying a CS300 between Riga, Latvia, and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, a six-hour flight covering 2,500 nautical miles (4,630 kilometres)–the longest C Series route
Bombardier expects to deliver 30 C Series single-aisle passenger jets in 2017, with deliveries back-loaded to the last quarter of 2017 following delays receiving Pratt & Whitney PW1500G geared turbofan engines earlier this year.
There are about 20 CS100 and CS300 aircraft in various stages of completion at Mirabel for near term delivery including the first CS300 for Korean Airlines, the launch customer in Asia.