Bombardier has taken the wraps off its high-stakes challenge to Boeing and Airbus’ dominance of the single aisle market, unveiling its CSeries jet this week and promising a first flight by June.
“It’s not a paper airplane, it’s a real airplane,” the Canadian jetmaker’s president, Mike Arcamone, said during a press event at Bombardier headquarters outside Montreal. “It’s not a re-engined aircraft we are putting into the market…I can tell you we are a very serious contender.”
Arcamone’s comments are a swipe at the aircraft that will represent the CSeries’ main competition — the Boeing 737 MAX and Airbus A319neo, both of which are re-engined upgrades on the company’s well-established passenger jets.
Bombardier has previously announced plans for a 110-seat C100 and a 130-seat C300 but now says it will also offer a 160-seat version of the C300. The C100 and C300 list at US$62 million and $71 million respectively, well below the Boeing and Airbus aircraft, which both list for upwards of $80 million, though airlines typically negotiate substantial discounts on aircraft purchases.
But Bombardier claims further savings as well, saying a lighter airframe makes the CSeries 15 per cent cheaper to operate and saves 20 per cent on fuel burn over the competition.
“The CSeries aircraft is a game-changer in a changing economic environment,” Arcamone said.
Bombardier is not the only company attempting to challenge the Boeing-Airbus duopoly, with Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation also trying to woo customers with its Sukhoi Superjet. But Bombardier, the world’s fourth largest planemaker with well-established lines of regional and corporate jets, could be more a dangerous competitor. Arcamone said firm orders for CSeries aircraft now stand at close to 180, up from 148 at the end of 2012.
Bombardier has said it expects orders to pick up further once the CSeries makes its maiden flight. The aircraft is scheduled to enter service in mid-2014, though that is seen as an ambitious target.
Arcamone said for now the focus will remain on static airframe testing, building of test flight aircraft and ground testing.