The number of Bombardier C Series deliveries in the first half of the year is well short of the pace needed to hit the company's full-year target of 40, but recent improvements suggest the mark could still be within reach.
Bombardier delivered 12 C Series aircraft through mid-June, Aviation Week Fleet Discovery data show, with one more slated to leave the company's Montreal-area factory before month's end. But the pace has picked up of late. Bombardier handed over just one aircraft total in the first two months of the year, but followed on with four in March, two in April, three in May, and two in the first half of June.
New-program teething problems combined with acute supply-chain issues have created headwinds for the C Series delivery schedule since the program's inception. As of mid-June, the company had delivered 36 aircraft, including 17 last year—about half of its original goal.
A major issue early on centered around Pratt & Whitney PW1500G Geared Turbofan production delays and durability issues with two parts: the combustor liner and a carbon seal. But these have been solved for new-build engines, Bombardier says. Engines are now arriving on time in Mirabel, and the first PW1500G with the redesigned seal was delivered in May. (Redesigned combustors were introduced late last year.) In addition, Pratt's PW1500G spares pool is now sufficient to meet the needs of operators, which have been forced to swap engines regularly because of the combustor and seal issues.
Much of the current bottleneck is interiors installation. Unspecified quality issues with Zodiac Aerospace-supplied cabin components led to longer-than-anticipated installation times. Bombardier last year turned to a local MRO and interiors specialst, Avianor, to outfit some C Series cabins. Bombardier acknowledges the work is being done, but declines to say how many aircraft have been sent to Avianor or how long it would continue.
The Avianor work is believed to be part of the plan that incoming management will use to help the C Series ramp up. The program is set to be absorbed into a joint venture (JV) on July 1, with Airbus holding a majority position. Both companies have been working behind the scenes in preparation for the official JV launch date, and the new management team says it is prepared to tackle the production challenges.
"Looking forward, we see a a difficult ramp-up because there are some issues in supply chain specific to the situation of the C Series," Philippe Balducchi, the Airbus executive tapped to run the JV, said in early June. "But we will be very focused on having a robust ramp-up and a steep ramp-up in future years."