AirInsight conducted a short survey among industry executives to get their impressions of the Bombardier C Series after it’s recent debut at the Paris Air Show. Because this was the only new aircraft exhibited at the show, it was the obvious choice as a survey topic. The results have been most interesting.
The chart below shows a tremendous impact that seeing the airplane in person had on industry participants, particularly airlines and leasing companies. The number of customers who had very favorable ratings for the aircraft jumped from 41% pre-show to 73% post-show. The people who buy or finance commercial aircraft walked away from the Paris show with a distinctly improved impression of the C Series.
Examining the results by the type of company respondents worked for showed that the positive upswing in opinion of the aircraft was across the board. The following chart illustrates reactions from the different industry segments.
While our sample was small, it was statistically significant, as the world’s airline and financiers is not a large population. Our respondents are telling a story that flies in the face of the negativity we hear surrounding Bombardier. The C Series clearly had an impact at Paris. Our judgment is that part of the change in attitude resulted from seeing the aircraft live, apart from the lack of noise from the aircraft during the flying display (it will be the quietest jet in operation when it enters service), and in part resulting from Bombardier’s disclosure that the aircraft was “beating the brochure” in performance.
There might actually be a third reason for this surge of interest and appreciation: the new team that has been put in place in the first half of this year. Paris was indeed an excellent opportunity for various players to meet for the first time some of the new Bombardier employees, including Alain Bellemare, Fred Cromer and Colin Bole, among others.
1. Seeing the the CS100 and CS300 for the first time.
2. Better than expected performances.
3. Meeting the new management.
In a recent Bombardier video the president of Bombardier Aerostructures said that he had met more people in Paris in one week than he would normally do in one year.
When the industry starts ordering at least a hundred a year, OK. Until then I’m not popping my buttons.
For about a decade I’ve heard the same sales pitches over and over and all the organizational changes, makes me wonder if they really thought this program thoroughly or was it a rush to leapfrog Embraer?
They already have more than 600 orders, including 243 firm. Bombardier is not ready yet to take an extra 100 orders a year. All they need right now is an extra two or three substantial orders from major carriers in order to give them more credibility. And proof that it was a well thought-out endeavour is the fact that the aircraft is actually better than everyone expected, including Bombardier themselves. And yes it could be argued that they were trying to leapfrog Embraer with the C Series; but weren’t Embraer themselves trying to leapfrog Bombardier with their E-Jet? That is the nature of the business and it derives from the most natural thing in the world: competition. But they are doing much more than leapfrogging Embraer, for they are actually taking Airbus and Boeing head-on. And if A&B weren’t systematically blocking Bombardier’s efforts to sell the C Series they would actually be trampled by an avalanche of new orders they would not be able to deliver within a satisfactory time frame. With hindsight we can now see that it was an incredibly gutsy move to build an aircraft that would encroach on the Big Two’s exclusive turf. It took an impudent visionary like Laurent Beaudoin to pull a rabbit like the C Series from Bombardier’s magical hat.
Now, lets not give the Bombardier execs too much credit. They made a number of MASSIVE balls-ups to get to where they are now.
1. Lear 85 was an unmitigated disaster from start to finish.
2. Global should never have been running parallel to CSeries.
3. CS300 should have been the first to market.
4. CS500 should have followed that, then maybe even a CS700 before doing the CS100.
Thats without even starting into the company (mis) management of suppliers.
You have valid points Brendan.
1. The Learjet 85 programme should never have been started, so there would never have been a need to put an end to it.
2. Parallel or not the new Globals were an absolute necessity because it is Bombardier’s cash cow. But that programme should have been launched earlier.
3. I have often asked myself if the CS300 should have been launched first. As far as I am concerned the jury is still out. But I tend to not disagree with you on this.
4. If the CS300 had been initiated first then the CS500 would indeed have had to follow immediately, and the CS100 only if and when there would have been a demand for it.
As for suppliers, I don’t have an opinion of this because I don’t have enough informations. All I know is that they take that side of the business very seriously, and have done so for a number of years. Ever since they launched the Global Express actually. We can legitimately blame Bombardier for their strategy, but at least they had one. Along with the guts and brain to carry it through. And as far as the C Series is concerned it is an astonishing technical success.
I don’t believe the quality of engineering and workmanship was ever questioned. The problem with the CSeries is all a matter of management mishandling of the schedule, and finding not so creative excuses for the delays. My experience (I worked 26 years there…) is that the schedule put forth by engineering was probably accurate, but management did not like it and over-promised by cutting every estimate in half.
The plane is not bad, it is just too late. It should never have been put on hold in 2006, not the market is gone to Embraer, Airbus and Boeing because clients were tired of waiting.
“It should never have been put on hold in 2006.”
It was put on hold because there was no customer interest. What made the difference is the introduction of the P&W GTF engine about a year later. That is what made the project viable. The fact that the market is gone to Embraer affects the CRJ more than the C Series. The timing of the C Series launch was just about perfect: introduced earlier it would have missed the GTF; later it would have had to be postponed once again due to the Great Recession that hit two months later, and the project would likely have been shelved permanently.
How many times can you infer that a person is happy simply based on his or hers Facebook profile picture? Behind that nice pic there could be (just a “risk” in Management dialect) many issues … today, the technical development of an aircraft is all about risks and probabilities.
When Bombardier launched the C Series in 2008 it was indeed a “risky” proposition. And the “probability” that Airbus and Boeing would not let them impede on their territory was very high. The way things have turned out is that the C Series is an astonishing technical success. Before EIS it is already very reliable and even beats the original specifications. But Airbus and Boeing are trying to kill it because it poses an immense threat to their current domination. So we can now say with a high degree of certainty that the “technical risks” have been eliminated. And when I say this it means a lot more than a “Facebook profile picture”. In other words it reflects current reality after seven years of development. On the other hand the “probability” that it will be a commercial success remains to be seen. If it failed commercially it would be a shame because it is a technical triumph.