Monday, February 23, 2015

Bombardier Sets CS300 First Flight Date, But What Does the Future Hold?

By Benét J. Wilson / Published February 23, 2013

Photo credit: Patrick Cardinal

Photo credit: Patrick Cardinal

Certification of the Bombardier CS300 is one step closer after the Canadian manufacturer announced that the jet has been issued a flight permit by Transport Canada. The news came a little more than a week after the manufacturer announced a major shake-up at the top of its executive team and losses in the fourth quarter and 2014.

EXTRA: Bombardier Announces Executive Shake-up; Posts 4Q, 2014 Losses

The permit will allow Bombardier to launch the first flight of the CS300 test jet, scheduled for between February 26-28, 2015. During that first flight, the aircraft is expected to perform a series of handling and system calibration tests, at a wide range of altitudes and speeds.

Bombardier rolled out three CSeries jets at its Montreal plant on March 7, 2013, to great fanfare. At the time of the rollout, the CS300 first flight and entry into service was reported to be in the 2014-2015 timeframe, respectively. But a year later, Bombardier delayed the EIS ofthe CS300 will enter service in the first half of 2016.

EXTRA: ANALYSIS: CSeries Flies; Further EIS Delay to 2016 Likely

The first flight of the CS100 was September 16, 2013. But on May 29, 2014, one of the test aircraft suffered an uncontained engine failure, causing the test program to be suspended pending an investigation. The program was restarted on September 7, 2014.

EXTRA: CSeries Entry into Service Delayed

Aviation analyst Robert Mann is not surprised about the CSeries delays. “Unfortunately, what we’ve seen from every manufacturer is that these programs are apparently more complex and long lived than expected when they are first announced,” he said. “Whether it’s the Boeing 787, the Airbus A350 or CS300, delays have become par for the course for manufacturers.”

An artists conception of the CS300. Image: Courtesy of Bombardier

An artists conception of the CS300. Image: Courtesy of Bombardier

But unlike Airbus and Boeing, Bombardier’s CSeries doesn’t have a surplus of orders, said Mann. “The 787 and A350 continued to accumulate orders as they were delayed. But the CSeries has moved sideways, no significant new orders. Even some baseline orders like Republic have to rate as highly questionable, and the CSeries delays haven’t helped,” he said. “A couple of the folks who signed on as launch customers say they will take the aircraft, but not be the launch customer. That’s never a good sign, because it suggests there’s not much confidence in the state of the aircraft.”

EXTRA: CSeries Suffers Major Engine Failure: Grounded

The aircraft sits in a niche that has been historically hard to sell into, said Mann.  “And it brings new technology to the sector, but it’s unproven at this point. I think there is concern on the in-service experience of the CRJ series, which has had expensive midlife maintenance events,” he said. “But that may not be entirely fair to the CSeries, which is fresh sheet aircraft rather than CRJ, which is based on a business jet.”

But there are still questions on the CSeries, said Mann. “Question as to Bombardier’s support capabilities, questions on deliverability and even some questions on the technology itself, given that the original fuselage manufacturer was excused from production and they went to a different  supplier,” he said. “It all adds up to a difficult set of outcomes.”

EXTRA: AirwaysNews High Flyer Interview: Bombardier’s Rob Dewar

It’s not clear that there are any more orders out there for the CSeries, said Mann. “They’ve had the opportunity to shake the tree for orders as much as they could,” he said. “The aircraft being certificated will be longer than the end of the year, probably not until the second quarter of 2016.”

Cover Image: Courtesy of Bombardier

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The post Bombardier Sets CS300 First Flight Date, But What Does the Future Hold? appeared first on Airchive.

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