Bombardier’s C-series prototype rolled out of the paint shop this weekend at Montreal-Mirabel in the new house livery of the Canadian Aerospace giant. The type’s first flight is expected in the next few weeks, after being pushed back from an initial prediction of June, 2013.
The C-series is unlikely to have much of an impact on the cargo market, but the aircraft is on the leading edge of a series of projects aimed at the 100-150 passenger segment now dominated primarily by Embraer’s “E-jets” – the E170/E190 and variants.
This group of challengers includes the already-in-service Sukhoi SSJ-100, off to a slow start, and the upcoming Mitsubishi Regional Jet, Embraer’s planned E2 “next generation” E-jets, and another Russian design, the proposed Irkut MS-21 (developed by Irkut and Yakovlev).
Many of these projects use a variety of new technologies and materials, and significantly, the C-series will be the first commercial aircraft to use Pratt & Whitney’s PW1000G geared turbofan engines – which are also coming to the Airbus A320 Neo and several of the other programs listed above. The geared turbofan, which places a reduction gearbox between the fan and the low pressure shaft, allows the shaft to rotate at higher speeds – allowing fewer stages to be used by the low pressure turbine and the intermediate compressor. The manufacturer claims reduced weight, more efficient use of the fan, and therefore lower fuel burn.
For Bombardier, the C-series is also a step into a larger realm. The aerospace division grew out of Bombardier’s purchase of Canadair in 1986, as well as the acquisition of Shorts (1988), Learjet (1990), and de Havilland Canada in 1992 (purchased from Boeing, which had bought it in 1986). The company’s focus since then has been primarily on Business jets and Regional jets, as well as the Dash-8/Q400 turboprop. The smaller C-series, the CS100, is as long as a 737-700, but somewhat narrower, using a five-abreast configuration similar to the Boeing 717. It is Bombardier’s largest ever product, and the larger version – the CS300 – is still to come.
At present, the Canadian company has orders for over 170 C-series aircraft, with about two-thirds of those allocated to the larger CS300 variant.