CS300 first flight Wednesday, direct challenge to 737-7 and A319neo

Feb. 25, 2015, c. Leeham Co. Bombardier’s direct challenge to the Big Two duopoly in the 125-149 seat sector is scheduled for its first flight Wednesday, weather and gremlins permitting.


Bombardier photo.

The CS300, challenger to the A319neo and 737-7, is to take to the skies as Bombardier’s flight testing program enters the final stretch. BBD still claims it will deliver the first CS100 by the end of this year, though most analysts (and we) believe it will slip into 1Q next year.

The CS300, 135 seats in two classes and 149 in standard one class, matches the 31-inch pitch configurations of the “baby” Airbus and Boeing products.

Bombardier claims large operating economic advantages over these competitors. Our analysis shows economics probably a bit closer than Bombardier would like.

CS300 fuel mile and seat mile diagram 24 02 2015_

The Bombardier CS300 has an economic advantage over the Airbus A319neo and Boeing 737-7, according to our analysis using our proprietary modeling. Source: Leeham Co. Click on image to enlarge into a crisp view.

Using our proprietary modeling, with all configurations equal to eliminate any OEM advantage in assumptions, we conclude that the CS300 has a 9% airplane trip cost advantage over the 737-7 and a 5.1% trip cost advantage over the A319neo.

On a per-seat basis, using 32 inch pitch, the CS300 advantage narrows somewhat but still retains a gain over the new Airbus and Boeing offerings.

The CSeries is a bet-the-company effort by Bombardier to step up into the major airline sector. Heretofore, BBD played only in the regional airliner market with its turbo-prop and Regional Jet offerings. Bombardier has had many stumbles that have slowed sales. But most importantly, the program is now two years late and $2bn over budget. Its early program lead over the Airbus A320neo has evaporated and it’s now likely the CS100 will enter service after the neo. The lead of the CSeries over the A319neo, 737-7 and the Embraer E-Jet E2 has also narrowed considerably.

Bombardier hasn’t revealed the economic testing results from Flight Test Vehicle 4, the so-called performance airplane, but our Market Intelligence tells us that it’s meeting guarantees and performing better than those.

23 Comments on “CS300 first flight Wednesday, direct challenge to 737-7 and A319neo

  1. Presumably the seat-mile costs of the A320 are lower again than the CS300? I mention that because the bulk of A319 operators are happily upgauging to the larger NEO model. If airlines are not afraid of larger aircraft the CS300 competes against the A320 as well. At least until the CS500 model comes out.

    • Bombardier need to secure the CS100/CS300 market before developing a CS500. Moreover, Bombardier invested 4.4 billion in the Cseries and need to recover some money. Considering the heavy pressure from Airbus and Boeing, I don’t think that the profit margin of the Cseries will be very important.

  2. Initially FTV5 was supposed to take to the air earlier than the CS300. This means that FTV5, the fifth and last CS100 flight test vehicle, is three months late. Everyone is focussing on the CS300 and very few observers noticed that FTV5 has not flown yet. But if FTV5 is late that means certification of the CSeries is late as well. It also means that certification will hardly be achieved before the end of 2015 and EIS not before the first quarter, or even first half, of 2016. And the way things are going right now I am not even sure the CSeries will be operational before the next Paris Air Show.

    • I was wondering about FTV5 as well. I wonder if they just didn’t focus on it as much as the CS300 to get it off the ground asap (all eyes on it, most orders are CS300). Maybe they just put it on the back burner and some other teams (non flight test) are using it for other purposes towards certification that require the real final plane (emergency exit, etc, did they use the FTV5?).

      Other thought/question: BBD said their software is “latest” but I wonder if they use FTV5 for some other purpose like new software updates/tests, etc.

      In the end, we’re only speculating. Have you heard anything else about FTV5?


      • FTV5 has been handed over to Flight Testing only a few days ago. Its first flight is obviously imminent; but like you suggest everybody is probably concentrating on FTV7 right now because the CS300 is indeed extremely important for the future of the CS300 as the CS100 will likely become a niche aircraft used mostly for special requirements.

        • Should read “extremely important for the future of the CSeries”, not the future of the CS300, as this would be a circular reasoning. 😉

    • “This means that FTV5, the fifth and last CS100 flight test vehicle, is three months late.”

      It’s more than a year late, the original plan was to fly all five aircraft before the end of December 2013.

      • That’s old news. I was referring to Pierre Beaudoin’s last statement to the effect that FTV5 would be in the air before the end of the year (2014). That being said I understand the irony of your remark.

        • Yes, but Normand , would it be possible that the FTV5 be used for presentations to potential clients, last-minute adjustments software in adjusting been testing several possible configurations of the seats, entertainment systems , etc. . In short, the FTV5 be withheld deliberately for marketing and optimality ? And then, with 5 FTV in flight, Bombardier will reach it not soon be the milestone of 2,000 hours in the month of June ?

          • FTV5 would be a lot more beneficial to the overall programme if it was already flying rather than staying “on display” in the hangar. Besides, the aircraft can fly a few hours everyday and still be available the rest of the day for visiting customers. Clearly Bombardier needs to get the CSeries certified as soon as possible because EIS depends on it. A number of hours have to be flown in order to obtain certification and for that an aircraft in the hangar is useless. What must be absolutely clear for everyone is that BBD will continue to bleed cash until EIS.

            The fact that FTV5 is still in the hangar reflects the harsh reality that BBD lacked both the experience and the expertise to bring to completion such a large scale programme in the same amount of time that we would normally expect from giant benchmarks of the industry like Airbus and Boeing. That being said, we need to look at how much time Boeing has allotted for the development of the MAX which is based on a well known 50 year old design. And we also have to keep in mind that the A320neo is only a re-engine programme.

    • By “operational” I meant EIS of course. And when I wrote Paris Airshow I actually had in mind Farnborough. For I am not even sure the CSeries will be in service with airlines before July 11, 2016.

  3. …our Market Intelligence tells us that it’s meeting guarantees and performing better than those.

    Better than those what?
    The Airbus, Boeing and Embraer offerings, or the earlier CS300 test aircraft?

  4. I think they are going way over their heads in competing with Boeing & Airbus. Their niche should remain in the large regional jet category as they will never be able to offer similar pricing and their production rate per month will be far below what the two main manufacturers can offer.
    Embraer will be able to pull away in orders and delivery times as they stick to their narrow, but profitable line of regional jets.

  5. Speaking of Bombardier you say “their niche should remain in the large regional jet category.” And your point seems to be that because BBD did not do so “Embraer will be able to pull away in orders and delivery times as they stick to their narrow, but profitable line of regional jets”. It’s a valid point and the records indicate that BBD have indeed considered doing exactly that. Do you remember the Bombardier BRJX?

    But where would BBD be today if it had elected to compete with Embraer? It would have an expensive Embraer E2/Mitsubishi MRJ equivalent. Instead Bombardier was audacious enough to aim for the narrowbody opening in the 100-150 segment, like a good hockey player would do in front of a goalie. It could be said that Bombardier now owns the 100-150 segment. Of course the competition is fierce at both the lower and upper ends, but BBD is alone in between. Besides, the CRJ still has a bit of mileage left, especially if BBD decides to modernize it.

    One final point. The CSeries is just big enough to justify a carbon wing. This means that Bombardier had to develop the expertise for designing and building such a wing. This bodes well for the future. Any smaller carbon aircraft than the CSeries is a waste of time and money. To invest in a 100% carbon aircraft like the Lear 85 was not only stupid but was plane foolish. If Bombardier is in financial trouble today it is not so much because of the CSeries but is mainly because precious time, money and resources were wasted on a model that would have made little impact in their portfolio but did have a huge one in UNNECESSARY capital expense.

  6. The CSeries CS300 first flight is postponed until Friday because of the high winds.

  7. If airlines will upgauge to A320 and eat the extra trip costs over 319 NEO does it not stand to reason they may down gauge, keep the same CSM and see a 20% bump in their capacity utilization? On routes that see seasonal swings or intraweek variations, the C300 will be a license to print money. Fuel cost has dropped, but carbon taxes, gross weight, fees, all factor into cost. And no one think oil will be cheap forever. 5.1% trip cost is actually pretty HUGE with airline margins as they are.

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