It is exactly four years ago that Bombardier asked reporters out to the Farnborough air show on the pre-show weekend for an important announcement. Back then, the manufacturer officially started its CSeries program with a launch order from Lufthansa. The aircraft are to be flown by its subsidiary, Swiss, from 2014.
Four years later it is again Bombardier that has the first announcement to make. China Express Airlines converted a previously announced conditional order for six CRJ900 NextGens into a firm order. Slightly less important...
Bombardier claims its 138 firm orders for the CSeries are great and in line with what other manufacturers have seen in terms of order activity prior to first flight (scheduled before the end of this year). That may be true in some cases – it certainly isn’t for the Boeing 737 MAX and the Airbus A320NEO with which the CSeries competes. But Bombardier is not only fighting the two incumbents, it is also battling perception that its CSeries is bound for commercial failure.
The only thing that would help would be major orders at Farnborough. But without becoming too speculative, it does not really look like that is happening, at least if one follows Bombardier’s own argument. That goes somewhere along the lines of: the big orders will only come after first flight. It seems more patience is needed.