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Today Bombardier announced that they have almost completed their route proving for the C Series program in Zürich. They have visited 46 airports within Europe and achieved a dispatch reliability of 100%; a quite remarkable achievement. Usually the dispatch reliability on such stages of clean sheet aircraft is expected to be at around 96-97 % Rob Dewar, Vice President, C Series program said.j1

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During the phase they also tested the short haul capabilities and were able to turn around the aircraft within 20 minutes. Furthermore they flew a maximum of four legs per day, whereas Swiss, as the launch customer, will use it for up to eight legs, Peter Koch, fleet chief and program manager of Swiss, stated. So there we might see dispatch reliability decrease a bit. Peter Koch expects the aircraft, which will be delivered in June 2016, to achieve a dispatch reliability of 99.0% while in operation.

Interestingly, the aircraft is not yet certified to fly the steep approaches as the one at London City airport, which is a “key airport” for Swiss. For the launch customer, it was a fundamental criterion to operate to and from LCY. Moreover Odyssey Airlines will also use the aircraft to offer long-haul flights from LCY for business customers. It is expected that Bombardier will complete the steep approach certification in September 2016.  Peter Koch explained that Swiss will start operating at LCY in 1Q17.

The Pratt and Whitney geared turbo fan has been performing remarkably well. Peter Koch explained that the engine will not have the problem launch customers of the A320Neo are dealing with now. The bending of the shaft due to the high temperatures and the possible damage of the inner casing is not a risk due to the different mounting of the engine. Consequently the starting sequence and cooling down time will be less than two minutes, as usual for airliners in operation today. The difference is in the location of the engine control system; the C Series system is mounted in the casing of the engine and not close to the core as on A320neo.  Also the neo engine is mounted at the core whereas the C Series engine mounts at the fan.

Peter Wojahn, Chief Technical Officer at Swiss, emphasized the good relationship between Bombardier and Swiss since the launch of the program and that requirements after the program delay were always met by Bombardier. Still, the phase in of the aircraft is a total different story compared to their other new aircraft (777-300ER). While for the 777-300ER know-how such as maintenance can be transformed from other Lufthansa Group airlines, Swiss uses a different approach on the C Series to gain EASA certification. Therefore they train a large number of their staff in Montreal and even have engineers in Mirabel to be well prepared when the aircraft goes into operation.

Swiss will have pilots from the Avro RJ-100, Embraer and the A320 fleets flying the C Series. Remarkably, pilots with the different experience and knowledge about the weaknesses of their specific aircraft have good words to say about the C Series. Pilots of Swiss now trained on the C Series highlighted that the aircraft has a very clean cockpit, phenomenal aerodynamics and the systems actually do what the pilot expects from the aircraft.

Furthermore the Rockwell Collins systems have the capabilities to integrate and upgrade new systems to optimize operation and increase safety. For example an airport moving map for better situational awareness on the ground may be installed. Additionally a system similar to the brake to vacate system (Airbus) may be deployed on the C Series. The idea is to have a better (and later) timing in braking the aircraft when landing so that the runway is vacated by a high-speed taxi way at maximum allowed speed. Thus the runway is clear seconds earlier, increasing the capacity of that specific runway. For legacy carriers where runway capacity is a problem at their hubs, such a system might generate additional slots and create the opportunity for more flights. Low cloud bases and fog will have less of an impact on the operations at Swiss; low visibility approaches will be flown due to the precise systems and the help of the head up display (HUD).

Bombardier has brought Peter Koch along on trips to introduce the C Series to other airlines. In the long run, with a confident launch customer, a C Series in operation with high dispatch reliability and an aggressive sales strategy we could likely soon see new customers for Bombardier.

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