Jan. 17, 2019, © Leeham News: Airbus is planning performance improvement packages for the A220, intended to shave operating costs off an airplane that already beat performance promises.
The PIPs, as the upgrades are known, are common among all airliners. In this case, the PIPs were under study by Bombardier long before Airbus acquired a 50.01% stake in the C Series program last year.
While financially-strapped Bombardier may have been able to find the money to execute, giant Airbus has no problem doing so.
The operational performance of the C Series with Swiss International Airlines and Air Baltic, the initial operators, had long been rumored to be better than Bombardier promises.
When Rob Dewar, the head of the C Series program, was asked about this at the 2018 Southeast Aerospace and Defence Conference organized by Leeham Co. and Airfinance Journal, Dewar acknowledged this was true but demurred on the level. He said more in service experience was desired before revealing the number.
During the Airbus NA Tour this week, Dewar told LNC that the C Series—by now called the A220—was 3% better than promises before the C Series entered service with launch operator Swiss.
Dewar confirmed that PIPs are being planned. He declined to specify any, but it’s long been known that putting doors on the main gear when retracted is one possibility. The wheels are exposed currently, like on the Boeing 737.
The aerodynamic improvement reduces drag, offset by added weight and complexity.
There may be other, small aerodynamic clean up that may be done. These possibilities haven’t been detailed.
An announcement might be made at the Paris Air Show in June.