Pontifications: C Series to Airbus, 10 years since program launch, lower fuel burn

By Scott Hamilton

July 2, 2018, © Leeham News: Airbus officially became the majority partner yesterday of the C Series Aircraft Limited Partnership, or CSALP.

Airbus has a 50.01% stake in the LP, with Bombardier and the province of Quebec holding minority stakes.

Things will move quickly, now that Airbus has control.

Airbus is expected to announce a rebranding of the C Series at its July 10 pre-Farnborough Air Show media briefing. An aircraft is in the process of being repainted in Airbus colors for display at the event.

Bloomberg reported in April new names were to be assigned to the CS100 and CS300, probably the A210 and A230 respectively.

Construction of the new C Series Final Assembly Line in Mobile (AL) will begin sooner than expected. This was announced at the Inaugural Southeast Aerospace & Defence Conference in Mobile, organized by Leeham Co. and Airfinance Journal.

Advancing the date

Rob Dewar, who last week was VP and GM of the C Series program for Bombardier, announced that construction of the FAL will begin this year. BBD officials originally said it won’t begin until next year.

Dewar, who is this week now Head of Customer Support and Head of Engineering for the airplane program, said the first delivery from the Mobile plant will be in mid-2020.

When asked if that first delivery will be to Delta Air Lines, Dewar said it would be to a US customer.

A start-up, Moxy Airlines, plans to order 60 CS300s with the first delivery in 2020, according to its business plan. No order has been announced, though with the Farnborough Air Show beginning in two weeks, perhaps an MOU or LOI might be forthcoming.

JetBlue and Spirit Airlines in the US are known to be hot prospects. JetBlue won’t be ready by Farnborough, it said, to decide between the Embraer E-Jet E2 or the CS300. This decision is expected by year-end. Spirit’s timetable is unknown.

Operating performance

Dewar also announced that the C Series is burning about 3% less fuel than advertised. Drag, electrical outtake and bleed air each came in about 1% less than forecast, based on operating results from Air Baltic and Swiss.

A software/paperwork change is forthcoming to reflect these differences.

Additionally, Dewar to me on the sidelines of the conference that engine performance improvements of 5% will come over a 3-4 year period. He declined to provide a starting date.

Launching the program

As it happens, the C Series program was launch 10 years ago July 13 at Farnborough by the Lufthansa Group.

Then-president of Bombardier Commercial, Gary Scott, presented the airplane to Lufthansa. The order was followed by one from the USA’s Republic Airways Holdings, which then owned Frontier Airlines. Republic ordered 40+40 CS300s, intended for Frontier, which at the time exclusively operated the Airbus A319 and A320. The CS300 is the same size as the A319.

The Republic order spurred Airbus to launch the A320neo, which in turn prompted Boeing to launch the 737 MAX. The Embraer E2 followed.

“This Farnborough marks the 10th anniversary of that event which changed the single aisle landscape,” one industry observer noted to LNC last week. “Lufthansa then followed with a commitment for the NEO including engine choice driving the GTF timeline. Unfortunately, some issues prevented timely deliveries of all models as Pratt and CFM were both having issues.”

LNC’s Bjorn Fehrm will be at the July 10 Airbus media day and we’ll both be at Farnborough, reporting on plans for the C Series and other news.

34 Comments on “Pontifications: C Series to Airbus, 10 years since program launch, lower fuel burn

  1. The CS-family wingtips reminds me a bit of that of the A330’s, by all accounts the CS has a good wing. Was just wondering if AB could use their experience with the 359’s winglets and apply that to the A200’s?

    With a wingspan of 35.1m there is some room to play stay within the 36m. Its still early days in the CS/A200 family production, such an improvement could also pave the way for an “A250” somewhere down the line.

    New winglets is only introduced on the 359 at ~aircraft no 210.

    • Both the 787and A350 are now quite a bit different to the early models. Its unlikely that the C series wouldn’t benefit from a similar level of tweaking. Bombardier never had the cash to be able too admit that.
      C series winglets do look a bit “unfashionable “.

      • I think the days of add on wing tip tweaking are gone.

        Ala the 777ER and 747-8, composite wings aren’t amendable to that as they already are optimized.

        Not sure why people think you need to mess with a perfectly good product out of the gate either.

        Clearly the impro9mvent are in the engine and that was stated by P&W early on.

        • Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 engineering teams beg to differ.Its arguable that they just made a mess of things in the first place,but this is standard procedure. There are always amazing production efficiencies to gained ,as long as you have sufficient volume.
          When it matters and you are fighting to the death in total global war,the ultimate combat aircraft for production and lethality are the B,Cand in the case of FW190 and P51,D models.

        • Think AB will know if there is room for significant (2-3%) improvement with wing tweaks If so the earlier the better for such a PIP, an CS500/A250 will also need increased MTOW. AB’s “recent” experience with winglets started with the 320 sharklets in 2006, 330NEO and now 359.

          Appears there is not much thrust growth in the PW1900, at least in the short-medium term.

          • Uh guys, those were not composite wings.

            Boeing has stayed with the cranked wing tip in the 787 and the 747 since they were put into service.

            A350? They did add to the winglet. Poor design apparently.

            Airbus absolute priority has to be to get the producion up to where it should be, let alone tweaking something that does not lends itself to tweak (minimal if any return)

            Stay tuned.

  2. Delta has 125 A319 in the fleet, and for many US Routes a larger aircraft is no sensible option. Overall there are more than 450 A319 in the Americas, and about 80% flying in the US and Canada.
    I think the C-Series will become successful, technology-wise it is state-of-the-art.

    • Delta has 57 A319s in their fleet, all recently refreshed, with an avg age of 16.1 years. DL’s A320 fleet was also refreshed, though the 62 frames are avg 22.6 years old.

      And Delta has been clear that the CS100 (or A210 as it may become known) is largely a replacement for the MD88s that will need to retire (even as that is a downgauge in seats per flight).

      All that said, I would hope that Delta considers the CS300/A230 for A319 replacement and supplementing routes of that density. The improved fuel burn, as oil prices rise, may help make that attractive.

  3. It will be interesting to see what changes will be made to the Cseries. presumably there is an opportunity to PIP the programme using the depth of knowledge in the Airbus camp. I still have to pinch myself to accept that this deal has been completed.

    • I think Airbus will put this into service as is, why would you start pipping a product that needs to get into the full mfg stage?’

      There is no real competition. Its a very optimized aircraft as it stands. Engine will make the difference and that is planned already by P&W.

      • Fair point, but Airbus seems to have a penchant for continuous PIPing on all its aircraft. And yes the GTF is probably where a lot of the benefit will be gained.

        • No disagreement that the mfgs pip, Boeing does it as well as Airbus.

          There are always small improvement that can add up.

          But programs that are troubled need to get into production first and that has not happened.

          I simply see no need to tweak or pip anything and those have to have some kind of payoff and that is a long ways out for the C.

  4. what is the historical basis for the A3xx model naming scheme? i.e, why was the A300 not the A100 or A1? it seems odd to me that they would go to A2xx for the C-series instead of A36x

    similarly, why 7×7 for boeing? the immediately preceding Boeing was the 377 stratocruiser and the 707-precursor was the 367-80

    • Keep in mind mixing up factor model vs public model names is a mistake.

      Airbus now starts things off with 800 and 900, so it reflects a mature aircraft (as if Airline execs don’t know what they are buying!)

      Once Boeing had a major success with the 707, it just kept going with the pattern. Marketing.

      And there is a variation inside Boeing as a 777-312 would be the number assigned to airline X and the 777-342 would be assigned to airline Y.

      Where Airbus came up with its start is ?

      • I believe the logic went like this but please feel free to correct me

        Boeing – the 700s were chosen to reflect a move from piston engined to jets and the 7s were the next number on the list (after a missile program I think)

        A300 – I think originally the first product was supposed to hold 300 passengers. However this was reined back when the RR engine was shelved and the GE alternative required a reduction in the size of the aircraft

        • Yes, it should have become the A250… There might still be some unused project numbers between A310 and A316 that could be used (not forgetting the abortive Asian Express exercise with Avic and Singapore Tech used AE316 & 317 nomenclature…).

  5. If P&W can do a 4% engine improvement can LEAP match that on the A320?

    And costs to do the same vs what P&W costs.

    note: RR is now extending blade issues to the Trent 7000.

    • I can see technological advances from both CFM and PW researching engines for the NMA. Spin offs of these could find its way in engines for the 320’s and 737Max’es.

      Have not read about the blade issues of the T7000, was wondering if the Advance-3 core will change the overall dynamic’s resolving these blade issues?

      • You have to wonder what the LEAP materials limit is vs the cost?

        Overall the GTF is lower tech, but has the killer gear.

        That can be brought up to LEAP levels over time (and the GTF when understood can be optimized further as well)

        The Trent 7000 just got mentioned today. Frankly it makes sense as it and the Ten are still somewhat derived from the 1000.

        At a guess the Advance will not as its flow path is totally different.

        What you have to wonder is are their lurking issue in the XWB as the modeling should have not allowed the cracked blades to occur.

        While the corrosion issue was a head scratcher (materials choice are not flow model), they just figured out what in the flow path caused blade cracks.

        So the other we won’t know for a long time (ever if they have an issue and can cover it) is their modeling/testing so bad it won’t catch other issues?

        At least a heads up what to and where to look.

        Also by inference, if the 7000 has issues the 10 has issues.

  6. Was often thinking what a scaled up “CS” from 3-2 to 2-3-2 (or 3-2-3?) seating will look like as an NMA. Around 250 seats, 5000-5500Nm range, 45m wing, 45-50Klb engines, same flight deck layout, etc.

    Building on the CS technology and PW-GTF engines (and lots of money) this could be EIS at a similar time as the “797”?

  7. Is 5 wide the issue here?

    If BB had more cojones and went 6 wide would they have had a better programme? Would it still be possible with their existing physicals if they used 16.5” seats — 133” internal cabin width?

    Would it be a big job to work the existing fuselage to enlarge the cabin out to 136” / 138” wide?

    The CS looks to have huge potential — up against 30 and 50 year old competitive platforms that seem to come from another age at quite a few levels.

    • Are you trying to imply the 737 (and A320) are a bit dated?

  8. Oh, hell no for 16.5” wide seats!

    Surely, you must be saying this in jest…

    Because that would be an absolute dealbreaker. I’d give up flying altogether than subject even my not quite fully “fluffy” 5’ 8”/190-195 lbs body to that madness.

    As in “NFW”

    Never. Ever.

    Good lord, there surely are some very sick (and sadistic) puppies out there if they’re seriously suggesting 16.5” width for a seat is anywhere near acceptable…😱 🙄

    • Lets see what the NMA is, the 777 high density (16.8″), 787 (17.2″), so 16.5″ not ruled out as it seems airlines don’t give a hood what’s happening at the back.

      So what a pleasure to fly on the CS which I had the privilege to have done twice now.

      • Hello Anton and other narrow seating enthusiasts,

        Regarding: “Lets see what the NMA is, the 777 high density (16.8″), 787 (17.2″), so 16.5″ not ruled out as it seems airlines don’t give a hood what’s happening at the back.”

        Have you read about Delta’s new 777-200ER and LR interiors? According to the AirlineGeeks article at the link below, Delta’s first 777 with the new interior just went into service, and Delta retained 3-3-3 abreast seating in economy. Believe it or not!

        Regarding stretched A321 vs. NMA debates, take a look at the pictures of the Delta One Suites in the article, I don’t see how airlines for which super premium seating of this type is an important component of their business model, can come close to matching these type of accommodations, with aisle access for every suite, in a single aisle aircraft.

        Below are a few excerpts from the article, followed by a link to the article.

        “But for passengers traveling in economy, the best part of the refurbished 777s isn’t an actual change but Delta’s decision to retain a 9-abreast configuration in its economy class. The airline will offer 220 Main Cabin seats, two more than before.”

        “Most airlines operating the 777 have converted their jets to 10-abreast seats, including Delta’s European SkyTeam partners Air France and KLM. U.S. carriers American Airlines and United Airlines also fly 777s configured with 10-abreast economy cabins, with each seat being 17 inches wide.

        Delta’s decision to keep the 9-abreast economy cabin was a pleasant surprise for many and means that seats will be 18.5 inches wide, the widest economy seats of all of Delta’s long-haul fleet and all 777s operating in the U.S.

        On the decision to maintain the configuration, a spokesperson for Delta told AirlineGeeks: “The comfort of our passengers is a top priority. By maintaining 9-abreast seating in the Main Cabin as we modify our 777s, we’re able to offer wider Main Cabin seats and more preferable seat options.”


        • Thanks AP, Delta stands out in the crowd, hope it pays of for them. With AA standardizing on 787’s and 777’s lets see what happens with load factors in the long term compared to DAL (also 330’s) and UAL that will have 359’s in their fleet.

          Due to an aircraft change I ended up on one of the ME airlines 777’s with 10 abreast, not fun, fortunately only a 6 hour flight.

        • If Delta retains 9 abreast on their 777’s, a part of my business is coming their way because of just that.

  9. To be pendantic, when Frontier/Republic ordered the CSeries, Frontier was also an operator of A318s.

    And at the time, Republic was also flying E190s on behalf of Frontier. A real dog’s breakfast, as the Brits would say.

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