The official announcement from Bombardier Aerospace puts the most positive possible spin on the news, but the reality is that delivery of the aerospace company’s CSeries aircraft will be delayed until “the second half of 2015.” The aircraft is making “solid progress” and initial performance results are “in line” with the company’s expectations, but it will require more time to ensure that the CSeries has “the overall system maturity” to support entry into service.
The president of Bombardier Commercial Aircraft, Mike Arcamone, said that the company is very pleased that “no major design changes have been identified,” a fact that gives them confidence that the aircraft will meet performance targets. Customers who have signed on to the program are “aligned” with the program’s schedule, Arcamone said.
The first flight test of flight test vehicle 2 was carried out on January 3. The first flight test, which had been delayed, was carried out last September 15.
The news of the delayed delivery date comes just after a new order for the jets was announced. SaudiGulf Airlines placed a firm order for sixteen CS300 jets, worth about $1.2 billion. Whether the delay will cause cancelations of existing orders is unknown, though not expected.
There has been speculation that the latest delay arises from problems with the CSeries’ avionics.
A spokesman for Bombardier was reported in the Montreal Gazette to have said that this would be the final delay, saying that “people are not happy about this.”
The delays are by no means unusual in the aerospace industry, however. The other big aircraft makers, Airbus and Boeing, have both been through the same cycle of delivery dates announced then postponed. Production of the wide-body Airbus A380 was delayed several times beginning in 2005, each time for several months, resulting in a big drop in the company’s share price, and the departure of several top executives.
So far, Bombardier has close to 200 firm orders for the CSeries planes. The company has stated that it wants to secure 300 orders from twenty customers before the first delivery takes place. The aircraft targets the 100- to 149-seat market. Bombardier says it will offer a 15 per cent operating cost advantage and a 20 per cent fuel burn advantage, in part because of the “advanced materials” and “leading-edge technology” built into the planes.