At the March 7 unveiling of the first aircraft in Mirabel, Bombardier touted the program's progress toward a rescheduled first flight at the end of June, a milestone the company expects will bring new orders.
Bombardier projects a market for 7,000 aircraft in the 100-149-seat category over the next 20 years, but it does not have an estimate for the incremental potential up to 160 seats. “We have not quantified how many more customers it will bring, but it will definitely be more, because we are offering another option,” Dewar says.
While the larger CS300 is being promoted as offering “the best economics in the industry,” the smaller CS100, covering the 100-125-seat market, continues to be targeted at airlines wanting “superior runway performance” for operations from the likes of London City Airport and Stockholm Bromma Airport. “The two aircraft are different,” Dewar says. Deliveries will begin with the CS100, the first of which will go to an “undisclosed customer seeking a competitive advantage,” he says.
Playing down the significance of the delay, and the lack of orders, Bombardier Chief Financial Officer Pierre Alary says the company is planning a “very, very slow ramp-up” in CSeries production: 30 aircraft in the first full year after entry into service, 60 the next year and the full 120-a-year rate in the third year. If Bombardier hits its mid-2014 CS100 delivery target, the manufacturer would hand over just 15 aircraft in 2014, rising to 45 in 2015. “It is really a gradual ramp-up,” he says.
While this gives Bombardier more time to build its backlog, the slow production increase will prevent the buildup of inventory before certification, Alary says, and avoid the time and cost of having to rework aircraft with changes from flight-testing before delivery. The slow ramp-up will also give Bombardier and its suppliers more time “to set up manufacturing to be as efficient as possible as quickly as possible,” he says.
As for those missing sales, Alary says airlines refrain from placing orders for a new aircraft for several reasons, including development risk, uncertainty about certification timing and the need to see how the aircraft performs. “Risk gets eliminated as the program progresses,” he says. “First flight is a milestone toward retiring development risk and could be a catalyst for orders. There are customers waiting.”