It took eight months of waiting since its industrial launch, but the C Series finally drew its first firm orders this month, putting to rest gathering speculation by industry observers that the airplane might never materialize. Speaking with AIN on the morning of the announcement that the Lufthansa Group signed a purchase agreement for thirty 115-seat CS100s, Bombardier Commercial Airplanes president Gary Scott admitted to some frustration, not with Lufthansa or even the eight month wait, but with his inability to answer the critics until this month.
“If there is a frustrating part about it, it is all the speculation on the outside that you have to deal with, all the while you know things are moving along on the inside. But you can’t really share that,” said Scott.
Swiss International Airlines–the Lufthansa subsidiary slated to operate the airplanes in 2014–likely won’t fly the airplane in revenue service before another airline takes delivery in the second half of 2013, Scott said. In fact, earlier airplanes will likely go to a client of Dublin-based Lease Corporation International (LCI), which Bombardier on March 30 identified as a customer for three CS100s and 17 CS300s, giving Bombardier firm orders for 50 airplanes in total.
Meanwhile, Bombardier has secured “90 percent” of the supplier base for the aircraft, said Scott, including Alenia Aeronautica (horizontal and vertical stabilizers), Fokker Elmo (wiring and connections) and Goodrich Actuation Systems (flap and slat actuators). Plans call for groundbreaking for the final assembly plant in Mirabel, Quebec, some time around the middle of this year.
To be powered by the version of Pratt & Whitney’s Geared Turbofan designated the PW1524G, the C Series design now calls for a 46-percent composite content, including all-composite wings, empennage, aft fuselage, window frames, keel beams and center wing box. The larger version of the airplane, designated the CS300, will hold 130 passengers in its standard configuration and reach the market in the second half of 2014.