“Bombardier is 100% committed to the CSeries. The CSeries is coming to market and the airplane will be here soon. We are getting further and further with the certification,” Bombardier Commercial Aircraft VP-business acquisition Ross Mitchell told media attending the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) general assembly in Berlin.
The comments follow Bombardier’s Oct. 6 disclosure that it had been in talks with Airbus over “certain business opportunities.” At the time, Bombardier said those talks were “no longer being pursued,” but the Canadian manufacturer added that it plans to explore other potential consolidation opportunities. Airbus also confirmed that the two manufacturers had been in talks, which have ended.
On the sidelines of the ERA conference, airBaltic CEO and CS300 launch customer Martin Gauss told ATW he is waiting on further information from Bombardier. “We would like a clearer statement from Bombardier on the status of this program. I want certainty, not only on deliveries—which I think they will achieve—but that they will still be supplying and building these aircraft in five years’ time,” Gauss said.
Responding to a question from ATW, Mitchell declined to reveal any further information on discussions with Airbus or any other potential partner. “Today we are focusing on the aircraft,” he said.
Instead, he shifted the focus to the CS100 being over 90% of the way through its certification. After 3,000 hours of test flights, Bombardier has moved on from “working the aircraft hard,” by subjecting it to weather extremes and water ingestion, to the final stage of function and reliability testing. This will include airfield performance, landings, turnarounds and on-ground operations.
Over the next few weeks, the CS100 will be making appearances at about 15 airports in Canada and 20 in the US, with the aim of certification by year-end. “We are now operating the aircraft like an airline would operate it,” Mitchell said.
Bombardier also confirmed that its production ramp-up is underway, including the first aircraft for CS100 launch operator Swiss International Air Lines, with its first delivery expected in the first half of 2016. “After the entry into service, we expect interest to accelerate more,” Mitchell said.
He added that the CSeries is “meeting and beating” its technical targets. The CSeries’ maximum range has been increased from 2,950nm to 3,300, exceeding its original target by 350nm, following the test program. Its fuel performance is also better than anticipated.
Bombardier has booked 603 CSeries orders and commitments to date, including 243 on firm order.
By Victoria Moores