Bombardier and China’s Comac announced last week at Airshow China in Zhuhai the successful conclusion of the first phase of their collaboration covering program commonalities between the Canadian company’s new CSeries airliner and the Comac C919 narrowbody. The companies in March officially entered the first phase of a “definitive agreement” under which they say they’ve “achieved mutually beneficial outcomes” in terms of product development and customer operating cost efficiencies for both airliners. A year earlier the sides signed a somewhat loosely defined framework agreement to build on the potential complementary nature of their products and respective expertise, including exploring collaboration in their marketing, customer relationship and support strategies.
A letter of intent signed by Comac and Bombardier in Zhuhai on November 13 marked the start of the second phase of the companies’ definitive agreement, under which they plan to explore further possibilities for aircraft commonalities, marketing and sales cooperation, expanded joint customer service capacity, collaboration on product testing and certification and the possibility of partnering on future Comac and Bombardier product lines.
During Phase I, areas of collaboration included the cockpit human-machine interfaces, the electrical system, technical publications and the development of aluminum-lithium standards.
Bombardier uses aluminum-lithium for the fuselage skins in the CSeries and in 2008 awarded China’s Shenyang Aircraft responsibility for supplying some 10 percent of the airplane’s structure, including the forward-, mid- and aft barrels, as well as the composite center wing box “in close cooperation” with the Canadian manufacturer’s Short Brothers subsidiary in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Since then, however, Shenyang’s failure to meet Bombardier’s schedules forced the Canadian manufacturer to reassign many of the work packages, perhaps most notably the center fuselage section, to Short Brothers.