CSeries drifts in search of ready port

Service entry of the CSeries has been put back so often that were Talking Point to keel over at the keyboard, the words “Bombardier” and “delay” would probably be tapped out in a final spasm of muscle memory. The latest deadline for certification and entry into service had been the second half of this year, but comments last week by Bombardier CEO Alain Bellemare, as reported by Bloomberg, suggested that first delivery would only occur in 2016. Since then, however, Bombardier has said that its “internal” schedule remains valid, perhaps indicating that it will have a service-ready CS100 before January, but that its launch customer won’t be in a position to deploy it.

Last year Malmo Aviation (via parent Braathens Aviation) pulled out of becoming the aircraft’s maiden operator and Bombardier hasn’t revealed who the new launch customer will be.

Of the 243 firm orders for the CSeries, 63 have been for the CS100 and 180 for the 135–150-seat CS300, which is set to start commercial operations about six months after its smaller brother.

Even if the latest setback is down to the customer, it seems likely that Bombardier will stretch the “second half of 2015” envelope to its maximum, as many commentators predicted when the airframer resumed flight tests in September 2014 after an engine failure in May.

At least Bombardier can take comfort from a recent research paper from Liebherr Aerospace that broadly backs the most compelling line of its sale pitch for the CSeries.

In the paper, entitled “The Right Single-Aisle for the Future Market”, the authors showed that 80 per cent of 737 and A320 flights in the US are under 1,350nm, and argued that carriers would be better served by aircraft with a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of around 60 tonnes, rather than the 70-90 tonnes of A320s and 737s.

MTOWs of the CS100 and CS300 are 59 and 65 tonnes, respectively.

More recently there has been concern about the performance of the CFM LEAP-1B engine in ground testing, where it is said to be missing its specific fuel consumption targets.

The -1B is destined for the 737 MAX, from which Bombardier is hoping to grab market share.

TAGS: Airframes
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