Bombardier Bullish on C Series Delivery Target

 - September 13, 2017, 3:06 PM

Bombardier has taken delivery of the first Pratt & Whitney PW1500G geared turbofans fitted with upgraded combustors for the C Series narrowbody as the Canadian manufacturer prepares to accelerate production during the second half of the year in an attempt to deliver some 30 airplanes. This year having shipped just 11 CS100s and CS300s to Swiss International Airlines and Air Baltic, Bombardier has adjusted its delivery ambitions slightly downward from an earlier estimate of between 30 and 35 to account for supply chain interruptions, mainly involving engine supplier Pratt & Whitney.

We’ve always said that our 2017 [deliveries] would be skewed toward the back end of [the year],” C Series program office director Istifan Ghanem told reporters at a Tuesday briefing at Bombardier’s production facilities in Mirabel, Canada. “So we’re meeting that plan…There will be a lot of deliveries at the end of the year, but we’re working to plan. In terms of suppliers, Pratt is aligning with that production plan.”

Although Bombardier Commercial Aircraft president Fred Cromer did attribute much of the early “lumpiness” in program execution to Pratt & Whitney’s difficulties, he noted that Bombardier hasn’t gone through a unique experience with the C Series, given the complexity and ambitious nature of the program. “One of the challenges that we as a manufacturer and an assembler face is orchestrating that same ramp-up at all the various suppliers that are part of the program as well, and different suppliers are at different levels of learning, different levels of maturity in supporting us,” said Cromer. “But we do see the right amount of resources, the right amount of investment coming through the supply chain at every one of our suppliers, and we’re on top of every one of them to make sure that we get to that point of harmonization sooner rather than later.”

Notwithstanding Bombardier’s early internal production challenges, the 18 C Series jets now in operation in some respects have performed better than advertised, said Ghanem. During his presentation of a technical program update in Mirabel, Ghanem reported that Swiss and Air Baltic have seen their airplanes burn 3 percent less fuel than brochure values promise. Utilization, meanwhile, has peaked at 17 flight hours a day, and Swiss flies its airplanes on up to 10 legs a day. Finally, after 20 A checks performed since the first CS100 entered service roughly a year ago, operators have reported “no findings” in terms of maintenance irregularities, said Ghanem.  

Together, Swiss and Air Baltic now fly more than 100 routes with their airplanes, including CS100 service between London City Airport and Zurich by Swiss. Next, Korean Air expects to take the first of 10 CS300s on order “in the coming months,” or some time this fall, reported Ghanem. In the process of painting the second Korean Air airplane, Bombardier has gained certification from Korean civil aviation authorities and now participates with the airline in preparations for delivery, including pilot training.