AirAsia, smiling but not buying, at a PR stunt: Wiki Commons

After last week’s uncontained failure of the new technology GTF engine on a new design Canadian regional airliner called the CSeries, the concern has switched back to worries about the future of the airliner more than its engine.

The core innovation in the engine made by Pratt and Whitney is a gearbox that promises to save significant fuel burn and emissions issues compared to conventional jet engines. According to the engine maker, that gearbox doesn’t appear to have been the cause of the engine coming apart in some way and actually damaging the CSeries 100 prototype in some way during a ground test.

However there have been no reports, no videos and no detailed accounts as to exactly what happened during that incident, or what damage was done to the jet, or so forth. Which is understandable, but doesn’t really help analysts and reporters get a grip on the big picture.

One of the most recent and detailed reports covering all bases is this one on Reuters.

If the significance of the aircraft damaging event is truly nothing but a minor flesh wound, and the promise held out for an engine tech breakthrough by P&W holds its course, the the real problem remains that almost no one who can be considered a major airline operator is prepared to buy the A319/737-700/717 sized Bombardier CSeries airliners.

And they are supposed to be in service by the middle of next year.

This by way of stark summary is where the problem lies. The jet has more than a few hundreds commitments, options, protestations, letters of intent, and copious glowing media releases, none of which in their totality are  a rational basis for the the program as it stands.

PR has galloped way, way ahead of reality. Everyone ‘likes’ what the CSeries set out to do, but next to nobody is buying it, not even Air Canada.

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