CSeries edges closer to first flight, as payoff for gambles await Bombardier and Pratt & Whitney

The Montreal Gazette did a little digging with Canadian regulators and came up with this interesting piece, deducing the first flight of the Bombardier CSeries will come within the “next 11 days” (the story was dated Aug. 19).

The Gazette also reported that the CSeries test program will extend to May 2015. Bombardier says this includes the CS300, which has an entry-into-service timeline roughly 12 months after the CS100. On Aug. 19, several Canadian media reported a new analyst note concluding that EIS of the CS100 will slip into early 2015, something we also suggested in an earlier post. The Gazette also quotes from the analyst note.

Bombardier has completed slow speed taxi tests (noted in our morning post of Aug. 19). Bombardier’s dedicated CSeries website is here and a number of YouTube videos are here.

The first flight, of course, while a major milestone is only the beginning of a testing program that BBD says will take a year and some believe will take longer. Since this is the first clean-sheet design in the 100-149 seat category (or even up to 200 seats) since the development of the A320 in the early 1980s, and it is the first airplane with the Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbo Fan engine, there are enormous stakes riding on the program. The CSeries is a huge gamble for Bombardier, its bet to move from the regional jet era it invented to mainline jets, into a sector largely abandoned by Airbus and Boeing but which has drawn fierce reaction from Airbus with aggressive pricing for the larger A320.

For Pratt & Whitney, the CSeries flight test and subsequent EIS is the culmination of a research-and-development gamble of more than 20 years to regain its once-dominant place in single-aisle aircraft power supply.

Since CFM retained the exclusive supplier agreement for Boeing on the 737 MAX, and because CFM so far has won about half the orders for engines on the A320neo, PW won’t reclaim the dominant position it had in the early years of the jet age. But With the A320neo, PW has half the orders, a vast improvement in market share from its IAE V2500 engine on the A320ceo family. But PW’s GTF gamble with CSeries led to the selection by Airbus for the neo, and along with the Mitsubishi MRJ sole-source engine supplier followed by a shared source on the Irkut MS-21 and more recently the sole source on the Embraer E-Jet E2, PW is clearly back as a major player.

Bombardier’s flight tests will validate (one presumes) the promises made by BBD and PW for the engine-airframe combination: the quietest engine, the most fuel efficient engine, the most economical engine-airframe combination.

The Boeing 787, for all its difficulties, brought a new level of excitement to aviation with its ground-breaking technologies. The A350 XWB didn’t have the same panache, coming behind the 787 as it did. If the CSeries lives up to its promises in flight testing, we believe the orders will start coming. The aviation industry has become the State of Missouri motto, “Show Me,” as a result of the program delays at Airbus, Boeing and now BBD. We look forward to a program that goes smoothly after first flight.

23 Comments on “CSeries edges closer to first flight, as payoff for gambles await Bombardier and Pratt & Whitney

  1. I’ll be the first to admit, I really don’t follow the CSeries and its competitive-sized planes but it would be great to see the plane successful.

    IMHO, there is a large 100-120 seat market which Boeing & Airbus have sort of neglected.

    • The CSeries engines are about the size of the JT9D engines on the 747-200! But half the power… 🙂

  2. Rudy Hillinga Why is filling out these two lines a new equirement every time I write somethingScott?

    When is Bombardier going to stop saying: “the first flight will be soon!”
    If they think they are getting publicity for the a/p by repeatedly saying
    so, they are going nothing but shooting themselves in the foot!

    • Soon, or in a few weeks, is better than by the end of the month! For the more specific you are the more chances you have to not meet the specified date.

  3. The rumour about an Air Canada purchase is gaining strength. And it could be a big one. Air Canada needs many relatively long-range, small capacity, aircraft to replace its existing less efficient fleet which covers vast territories with not very dense population. The CSeries looks like the ideal aircraft for Air Canada’s requirements. But it looks like we may have to wait until the end of the year for the confirmation.


      • Like for the 737 and the ERJ-190, the CSeries does not offer pallet cargo containers. In that category only the A320 does. But Air Canada would use the CSeries to replace its A319, which like you say uses loose load only.

      • “But Air Canada would use the CSeries to replace its A319”

        I guess if they want to replace the A319, the A319 and A320 NEO are the biggest competitors for the CS300. The stretched E190E2 would offer commonality with the E190 and would be competing with the CS100.

        Air Canada has taken delivery of 15 Embraer 175s and 45 Embraer 190s. It holds options on an additional 60 Embraer 190s.

        I guess Bombardier would need to have compelling arguments to have AC order an additional entirely new aircraft inbetween their A320 and E Jet fleets. An interesting competition, in which politics will officially play no role.

      • My understanding is that Air Canada would replace both the ERJ and the A319 with the CSeries. What I expect is that AC will get rid of the ERJ and A319, but not the A320. A mix of CS100 and CS300 in their respective long range variants would be ideal for the Air Canada network. The ERJ does not have sufficient range whereas the A319 almost has an excess of it. The A320 could be replaced by the A320neo, but the CS500 might be considered as well.

      • The E75s have already been moved to Air Canada Regional. AC mainline will need to replace A319s as well as (a little bit later) the E90s. As Normand notes, neither one offers pallet cargo now, either.

        • The A319 can indeed be configured for containerized cargo, but Air Canada does not use it that way. Therefore we assume that Air Canada has no need to have this system for the A319 replacement.

  4. Clearly, containerised freight/baggage isn’t the be all and end all. If United favoured it previously, it did not stop them switching from Airbus to Boeing, but then again, perhaps it is less of an issue in tN. America

    • Not sure UA A320s have the container/ pallet option. They said the ordered 900ERs are to replace 757s domestically.

  5. Regarding the situation of P&W: after doing quite a lot of test work since years (remember the test campaign on the A340-600), the engine appears rather mature. The CFM contender is a high risk technology. There is still the remote probability that the Leap-X will come out short of performance targets. Airbus is quite well hedged against that. Boeing isn’t. I don’t expect the Leap-X to delay the MAX, CFM has always the option of reducing engine TET (which is the innovation of the Leap-X, they increase the TET by 150-200°C!) and by that lowering performance.

  6. “For Pratt & Whitney, the CSeries flight test and subsequent EIS is the culmination of a research-and-development gamble of more than 20 years to regain its once-dominant place in single-aisle aircraft power supply.”

    I watched with growing amazement too. PW was in the sixties, seventies & eighties what GE was during the last 20 years. Dominant on both narrow and widebodies. The never ending troubles with the GTF the failures of the PW4000 and the reliance on the the JT8 decimated them. Its a tribute to the persistence and faith of a lot of engineers and investors that the GTF looks to finally pay off.

    I think that if the GTF meets their specs, CFM has a problem. (7 yrs ago people wouldn’t take you seriously on this..)
    The high temperatures, pressures and advanced materials (ceramics) of the LeapX can be gradually introduced on the GTF too. RR & MTU can help. The geared fan cannot be gradually introduced on the LeapX..

  7. “The never ending troubles with the GTF”? You probably meant the JT9D.

  8. Pingback: CSeries first flight may be Sunday, says Reuters | Leeham News and Comment

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