Bombardier plans to deliver the first CSeries CS300 to launch customer Air Baltic in the “coming weeks," company president and CEO Alain Bellemare told investment analysts on Thursday. Last month, the CS300 completed a month-long series of route-proving flights in Europe and the Middle East alongside Air Baltic in preparation for entry into service with the Latvian carrier. The larger of Bombardier's two new narrowbodies received European certification on October 7 and the company now expects approval from the U.S. FAA by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, three CS100s have entered service—all with Swiss International Airlines—and have logged 1,100 hours of trouble-free revenue service, Bellemare said. Mechanics performed the first A-check on a CS100 earlier this month “with no issue or findings.” The process took less than five hours, “well below the current industry standards,” he noted.
Backlog for the CSeries at the conclusion of the third quarter stood at firm orders for 356 (121 CS100s and 235 CS300s), up 46.5 percent from year-end 2015, and options for 232 (99 CS100s and 133 CS300s). Orders in hand for the CRJ series slid 24 percent since the beginning of this year, to firm orders for 60 and options for 18, and the Q400 firm order book dropped by five units, to 34, with options plummeting by more than 60 aircraft, to 13.
Also during Thursday’s investor conference call, Bellemare suggested that Bombardier Aerospace’s “strategic collaboration” with China’s Comac is all but over. “It’s prior to my time,” he said, meaning before he became company CEO in February 2015. “So I really don’t know much about [it] other than to say that there has not been much in terms of collaboration with Comac.”
When signed at the Paris Airshow in June 2013, the agreement between Bombardier and Comac called for an effort to leverage “commonalities between the C919 and CSeries airliners,” including non-flying flight-test tasks; sales and marketing; and customer services related to training, technical publications and parts distribution.