Bombardier is a Canadian aeroplane manufacturer that is planning to compete head-to-head with the industry heavyweights – Airbus and Boeing – by developing and manufacturing a new passenger aircraft. Its CSeries family of aeroplanes seat 100-149 passengers, a market that Bombardier claims is not well served currently. They are so sure of this that they have spent four years and 3.5bn Canadian dollars (£2.2bn) developing the new aircraft.
Currently, if an airline wants an aircraft that has this number of seats, it has to buy (or lease) either a ‘shrink’ or a ‘stretch’. A shrink is an aircraft that was designed to be bigger but can be made smaller, such as the Airbus A320 or Boeing 737; whilst a stretch is a larger version of a smaller plane such as the Embraer E-195 regional jet. Bombardier claim that the problem with a shrink is that it is heavier than it needs to be, and hence inefficient; whilst a stretch suffers from a loss of range. By designing an aicraft specifically for this market, the CSeries should overcome both these problems. For instance, the company claims that its new aircraft will deliver 20% less fuel consumption and emissions when compared with the A319 and 737-700.
Even though they have spent four years on development the first plane has not yet flown. It is scheduled to do so later this year. But for the aircraft to go into production, Bombardier need 300 firm orders for the plane, from at least 20 or more airlines and lessors. This will enable them to set up their assembly plant and begin to recoup the considerable R&D investment they have made. Right now they claim to have firm orders from 13 customers for 138 aircraft.
Source: BBC News