When Boeing CEO Jim McNerney early this month referred to the Bombardier C Series as one of a class of “regional jets that are getting a little bigger,” executives at the Canadian company might have taken offense. After all, since the launch of the program, Bombardier has spent untold marketing resources positioning the airplane as a mainline jet, capable of flying from Denver to either coast of the U.S. during the heat of the summer and, in fact, proving it can win a direct competition against the Airbus A319.
To the contrary, Bombardier Commercial Airplanes president Gary Scott appeared unfazed, if not validated, by McNerney's comments-not so much the part about the C Series looking like an overgrown regional jet, but the Boeing CEO's later allusion to the segment of the market a new 737 could, in effect, leave unchallenged. “That's not necessarily a market segment we want to be in,” said McNerney, referring to the sector the C Series would occupy.
“He is really confirming what we said all along,” said Scott. “This is a segment that's largely underserved by Boeing and Airbus today, only through downsized versions of their larger six-abreast airplanes. Five abreast is really the best cross-section for this segment. While the smaller Boeing and Airbus products have been the best option to date, now airlines are truly going to have an optimized solution to produce game-changing results for them…I think he's just confirming where Boeing is focusing, which is above 150 seats.”
Scott said that he has seen “pretty balanced” interest in the 110- to 125-seat CS100 and the 120- to 145-seat CS300 from around the world, and confirmed that Bombardier continues to talk with Qatar Airways about a likely order. “They recently said they intend to buy the C Series,” he said.
Bombardier expects to freeze the design of its C Series airliner around the time of the Farnborough Air Show, said Scott, marking the end of the project's joint-definition phase and the official start of the detailed-design phase. In fact, he said, many of the work packages have already entered detailed design, including parts of the structure, the wing and some of the systems. “At this point we basically have confirmed that the airplane will deliver as advertised,” Scott told AIN.