CSeries customers assembled by Bombardier to talk up the aircraft say they are comfortable with the program’s progress so far, as the company aims for a first flight by the end of this month.
“On performance and timing, we are very confident we will get what we contracted for when it is wanted,” said Nico Buchholz, Lufthansa executive vice president for group fleet management, at the Paris air show. Lufthansa has 30 110-seat CS100s on firm order for subsidiary Swiss.
“We will get our first aircraft at the end of 2015 and already we are involved in product support planning to a level we have not seen before,” says Martin Gauss, president and CEO of AirBaltic, which has 10 CS300s on firm order.
AirBaltic operates Bombardier Q400s – an aircraft which had a troublesome service introduction in the early 2000s – “and we see a big change with the CSeries when it comes to customer support ideas,” he says.
Buchholz says Lufthansa has been involved in the CSeries “from before its inception to today, and pushed Bombardier to listen to the airline community and do some modifications that resulted in a small time slip, but gave us a better aircraft.”
These include stretching the aircraft by two seat rows to enable the CS300’s 160-seat “extra capacity option”, revealed in May and already specified by Air Baltic among others.
This change was made before Lufthansa placed its order in 2009, but brochures were never updated to avoid alerting the competition, says Chet Fuller, senior vice president, commercial, for Bombardier Commercial Aircraft.
“We analyzed the technology for the aircraft and engines and eventually became convinced it would actually happen,” says Buchholz. “Bombardier has actually managed to deliver on its promise. Every step was the right action for the program.”
Buchholz says airlines usually pay for performance, “but we get performance with the CS100 and do not have to pay for it in bad operating economics,” citing the aircraft’s ability to fly from small city airports.