Bombardier has a tentative 12th customer for its new CSeries jetliner, the Canadian airframer’s commercial aircraft president Mike Arcamone announced at the Farnborough International show site yesterday. The new and as-yet-unidentified customer has placed an undefined “conditional order” for five 100- to 125-passenger CSeries 100s and five 120- to 145-seat CSeries 300s, nominally valued at about $1 billion.
The agreement introduces a new transaction term among CSeries deals. Previously announced arrangements have involved firm orders, lease options, purchase rights and letters of intent covering “up to” a certain number of aircraft. Arcamone said the bashful customer has “compelling reasons” for requesting anonymity, while program manager Robert Dewar declined at yesterday’s meeting to confirm or deny that the customer is present at this week’s show.
Although Bombardier acknowledged last year that it had used up any margin in the program schedule, Arcamone emphasized yesterday that, despite widespread skepticism among analysts and other industry observers, with the available information, he believes the company “will meet our milestone” of flying the aircraft by the end of this year and seeing it enter service within 12 months; the larger CSeries 300 was still set to begin operations not later than 2014 (see page 73).
Asked about problems with the airliner’s fly-by-wire controls, Dewar acknowledged: “Yes, we face some challenges, but none that are insurmountable.” He said Bombardier is in touch with supplier Parker Aerospace about software quality, which he confirmed was an “issue.”
Meanwhile, final assembly of the first CSeries continues and the manufacturer is already assembling the cockpit structure for the fifth airframe, according to Dewar. All airframe parts are on schedule–albeit a timetable that Bombardier admits has become compressed.
The CSeries center fuselage assembly is expected to be complete by the middle of this month before being moved to Montreal for final assembly. Bombardier expects the Chinese-manufactured rear fuselage barrel to be shipped from Asia “next week,” said the program manager, while the aft fuselage is “essentially” complete.
In the empennage assembly, the tailplane being provided by Italy’s Alenia is to be shipped “during the summer,” with fuselage doors due to leave Bombardier’s Northern Ireland factory in August. Dewar said development of the Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan engines is progressing “extremely well,” with the powerplant “basically” on schedule to meet fuel consumption targets.
Including the latest booked business, Bombardier has firm orders for 138 CSeries aircrafts, has lease options on 124, granted purchase rights covering 10 aircraft, taken a conditional order for 15 and received letters of intent involving up to 45 units. Some 70 of the firm orders are from Germany’s Lufthansa and U.S. carrier Republic Airways. o