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CSeries jets score another buyer, maybe

A CSeries 300 depicted as not being over Australia

There are two things making the Bombardier CSeries jets marginally of interest in Australia.

One is more orders, although a Russian leasing company signing a sheet of paper this week agreeing to maybe buy 42 of the larger CSeries 300 jets (single aisle up to 149 passengers) may not seem to cynics to be gold plated just yet.

And the other is the seemingly glacial slow motion Embraer is exhibiting in getting its recently confirmed plans for a re-engined and generally re-worked series of E-jets up to the starting line. Embraer seems to think everyone will wait until 2018 or later for it to have a jet they can buy.  It could be very wrong.

Make no mistake. Both are highly attractive projects. Both use versions of the new technology Pratt & Whitney geared turbo-fan engine on which so many hopes ride for big improvements in reduced fuel burn and emissions .

But only one is actually being built at the moment, which is the Canadian company Bombardier’s CSeries, and the first to fly in its test and certification program is report to be rapidly coming together for a its debut flight which some observers say could take place as early as June.

The CSeries 100 or smaller of the type is a natural replacement option for Embraer E-jets, which have been in service with Virgin Blue and then Virgin Australia for seven years.  The CSeries 300 is similarly scaled to replace, with a lighter, more economical airframe and engine combination, the Boeing 737-700.

But the CSeries also needs to get convincing sales before cautious airlines even think about it as an acquisition. Bombardier’s reputation in this country is built on its turbo-props, the largest of which, the 76 seat Q400, is widely used by Qantaslink.

Ultimately any CSeries success here will come down to operational savings. If Bombardier can convince the Australian carriers that every sector it flies will save them say $1000, multiplied by four,  six or even eight sectors a day, compared to various 717s, 737s and E-jets, success could come easily.

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  • 1
    comet
    Posted February 24, 2013 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Another one of those jagged mountain + aircraft PR images.

  • 2
    ltfisher
    Posted February 24, 2013 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Yes looks pretty but frankly I prefer to see a lot more blue between the jagged mountain tops and the underbelly of the aircraft, no matter who makes it.

  • 3
    Ben Sandilands
    Posted February 24, 2013 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    Back in the 80s long after having given up serious climbing I found myself in a Pilatus very high in thin but fortunately still air beside the Hummingbird ridge on Canada’s Mt Logan.
    I think Logan and Mt St Elias are in this view and Yes this is not a view that would make sense even approaching Whitehorse on a scheduled flight.

  • 4
    StickShaker
    Posted February 24, 2013 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    I think the main reason for the small CSeries order book at the moment is that airlines are waiting to see how the P&W geared turbofan performs in service – once that risk is mitigated or eliminated more orders should follow. Bombardier are not newcomers to building regional jets – they have built something like a thousand CRJ series jets.
    With so few A319 Neo’s and Max-7′s being ordered there is a need for an aircraft to fill that gap – the CSeries could end up wiping the floor in that segment.
    I think the CSeries would work very well in Australia – it has the required long legs where the Q400 wont work and would be a good replacement for E jets and 717′s. I can’t understand the rumours that Qantas is considering A319′s to replace its 717′s – CSeries would be a far better fit.

  • 5
    comet
    Posted February 24, 2013 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    The Bombardier CSeries joins the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A350 as the only airliners with plastic airframes.

    Even a company as big as Boeing struggles with this. Airbus also struggled with its plastic composite A400M military transporter.

    So, possibly there’s some hesitation about how Bombardier will go. So far, all large plastic planes that have flown have been complete botch ups.

  • 6
    Ian Barlow
    Posted February 24, 2013 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

    Comet, The CSeries avoids a plastic fuselage by having one largely from Lithium Aluminum.
    I think this as a very sensible move by Bombardier, as it avoids the pitfalls of the 787 fuselage which needs to have titanium frames, metal strips for provision of electrical continuity, and embedded copper mesh for lightning protection.
    Have they really saved weight on the 787 by going to CFRP?
    Almost all of the improvement in fuel efficiency on the 787 comes from having latest generation engines.
    Bombardier is an amazing company, having sold over 1,600 RJs if you count all versions, such as the RJ200, RJ700, RJ900 & RJ 1000.
    They are the undisputed world leaders in business jets.
    Challenger production is still ongoing at their Dorval site, Global production in Toronto & RJ at Mirabel as well as the new CSeries.
    And you are not going to find Lithium-Ion batteries on the CSeries.

  • 7
    keesje
    Posted February 25, 2013 at 4:52 am | Permalink

    Comet the CSeries has a rather conventional Alu fuselage, build in China. Conventional wisdom is composite fuselages aren’t as easy down scalable. E.g. from a strenght standpoint you could make the skin very thin, but not from a ramp-rash / hail impact perspective..

  • 8
    comet
    Posted February 25, 2013 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    I stand corrected. CSeries doesn’t use composites to the extent of the Dreamliner. Quote from G2Solutions:

    “Although not using the composite barrel technology introduced by Boeing for the 787 program, the CSeries utilization of composite materials has now more than doubled to reach approximately 46% of the entire structure (wings, tail cone and stabilizers)”

  • 9
    Ian Barlow
    Posted February 25, 2013 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Does anyone have any knowledge about how much weight-savings Boeing really achieved on the 787 by going to CFRP?
    They were correct about one thing; it’s been a game-changer all right.

  • 10
    Posted February 26, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Ian: the answer is, we won’t know until we get to about airplane 200 in the 787 series, which (IIRC) is the first one that’s scheduled to achieve target weight.

    But more generally, proclaiming the 787 program as showing that composite fuselages are a stillborn technology is like someone in 1954 proclaiming the Comet program as showing that jetliners will never be a success.

  • 11
    Ian Barlow
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    johnb78,
    Airplane 200!
    You must be joking!
    This airplane was hyped as lightweight, game-changing, innovative………
    I take your point, but remember that Airbus did not want to go for a composite fuselage for the A350 until after airlines seduced by Boeing’s sales pitch demanded it.
    Mitsubishi make the carbon-fibre wing for the 787, and yet even they are using a metal wing on their own jet.
    Of course, Boeing would never admit to having made a mistake, but it may well be that for fuselages, the disadvantages of going to plastic will always outweigh the advantages.
    I’m particularly concerned with the difficulty of detecting hidden damage in a CFRP structure and the difficulty of repair.
    But I would be very happy to be proven wrong.

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