Bombardier last week rolled out (sort of) CSeries CS100 Flight Test Vehicle #1 and revealed FTVs 2, 3, 4 and the start of FTV5.
Officials are sticking with their timeline that the first flight will be by the end of June. We think they’ll try to get FTV 1 airborne in time for the Paris Air Show, but we’ll see.
It seems that it will be a race of sorts between Bombardier and Airbus’ first A350-900 test airplane as to which will be airborne first. (And before wags weigh in, we certainly hope that Boeing 787 ZA005 will be airborne for its test flights before either of the other two.)
The CSeries is running about six months later than originally planned, but well ahead of the recent programs at Airbus and Boeing. The A350 is now two years late; its A400M–we’ve lost track of how many years late this is. And the A380 wound up about two years late, too. Boeing’s 787 was 3 1/2 years late entering service, and the current grounding of the fleet is another black eye. The 747-8 was delayed two years, affected by a diversion of resources to the 787 and its own design issues.
If BBD truly gets its first flight in the air by June, and maintains schedule for Entry-Into-Service a year later, it will have a great deal to boast about that neither Airbus nor Boeing can or could do.
A great deal of the lethargy in sales–though BBD professes to be satisfied, with slots sold out into 2016–is because disappointments in the Airbus and Boeing programs have impacted the confidence in BBD’s ability to perform. Although a six month delay doesn’t help, BBD (unlike Airbus and Boeing) pretty well telegraphed one would happen. Boeing’s “creeping delay” on the 787 maddened all stakeholders. Airbus, while more forthcoming on the A350 program than Boeing on either the 787 or 747-8, nonetheless found itself playing catch-up on more than one occasion to information emerging from customers and suppliers on the 350’s program progress.
In addition to FTV 1, BBD revealed FTV 2, 3 and 4 and the beginnings of FTV 5. While the web-cast “reveal” didn’t match the hoopla created by Airbus and Boeing for their events (and nobody does it better than Boeing), the headline news was what by now has been well reported: the confirmation of a 160-seat CS300 “Extra Capacity Seating” (ECS) option. The CS300 now has a five foot fuselage stretch for a baseline seating of 135 vs the previous 130. Gross weight has been upped to maintain a 2,950nm range. We don’t have the figures and so far we haven’t found them on the CSeries website, though the floor plans of the ECS are there. The 160-seat model is with 28 inch pitch, using slimline seats that BBD says effectively feels like 29.5 inches. A 150 seat ECS has 30 inch pitch, which should feel like 31.5 inches. The high-density seating reduces cash operating costs by 8%, BBD says.
Whether it’s a 150-seat or the 160-seat model, Low Cost Carriers now have a real choice of CSeries family members. We’ve been saying for more than two years BBD needs a 150 seat aircraft (albeit we were thinking dual class, but one step at a time) to have a good family.
Here are two related, long stories about the CSeries rollout.