Bombardier’s CS-100/300 aircraft are nearing the p0int where the first test aircraft will be taking flight in a few months. Last week, an unveiling of sorts took place to show off the aircraft which, up to this point, has actually stayed on time more than most aircraft being developed today.
I had a few thoughts on what I have seen and heard so far. Wow, that aircraft is big compared to anything made by Bombardier before. It doesn’t look like a regional jet, it looks like a mainstream jet with mainstream intentions.
Apparently Bombardier has been running around and promising potential buyers that they can make the aircraft a little longer and manage to cram in as many as 160 seats on the airplane at 28″ seat pitch. This is sold as feasible because a rather large executive with Bombardier can “fit” into these seats they are planning at that pitch. I would like to point out that even I can fit into such a situation. The real question is whether or not I will willing subject myself to such a seat pitch. And do we not recognize that a Bombardier executive might just have an incentive to say it’s a dandy thing to experience?
Consider that the plan is to cram 160 seats into this aircraft which is 127 feet long and compare that to today’s American Airlines MD-82/83 aircraft which is 147 feet long and which has just 140 seats on it. Even if you lengthen the CS300 a touch (which they plan to do) it still doesn’t really get you where you need to be.
I have a feeling that Bombardier is already discovering that the CS-100 might be a touch undersized and that the CS-300 might need to be a bit longer at the cost of range as well. Both these aircraft nominally are capable of trans-continental flights in North America and I would argue that that range is just a hair too much for those aircraft.
This is a good looking aircraft and it sounds like it’s coming together very well on the whole and despite high use of composites. I would suggest that Bombardier get it built, get it in the air and start showing the economics to airlines quickly. There is no need to grow into Boeing/Airbus territory with this aircraft. Airlines will buy this aircraft if it can offer 110-130 seats with the same dispatch reliability as a Boeing/Airbus with the promised improved seat costs.
This is an airliner that AA, United and Delta all need in the domestic United States. This is an airliner that, if it proves itself, Southwest should be looking at as well. Have faith in yourself and recognize that until you can show people that this airliner meets or exceeds promises, there will be some skepticism. Bombardier is entering new territory here and it needs to remain confident in itself in the meantime.