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Bombardier collaborates with Chinese plane-maker

Canadian manufacturer has signed an agreement with COMAC to develop commonalities between CSeries and China's C919.


March 22, 2012
by The Canadian Press

MONTREAL: Bombardier’s push to sell CSeries in the large Chinese market received a boost after the Canadian manufacturer signed an agreement to develop commonalities with China’s larger C919.

Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd. (COMAC) and Montreal-based Bombardier will work on four projects during the first phase of a long-term collaboration.

The initiatives to be completed over the next 12 months involve the cockpit, electrical system, aluminum-lithium specifications, publications and co-location of customer service teams.

“We are confident these four initial projects will build on the complementary nature of our respective products and expertise while helping to maximize both parties’ cost savings and market shares,” said Bombardier CEO Pierre Beaudoin.

He signed the definitive agreement in Shanghai Wednesday with his Chinese counterpart, which follows a framework deal inked last March.

The synergies being developed “will certainly contribute to enhancing the competitiveness of not only the C919 and CSeries aircraft programs, but also of COMAC and Bombardier’s overall businesses,” added Jin Zhuanglong, COMAC’s chairman.

The companies said the strategic long-term relationship demonstrates the “complementary nature” of the 110- to 149-seat CSeries and the 168- to 190-seat narrow-body C919.

The Chinese will model its cockpit, under development over the next 12 months, after the CSeries to ensure that an operator could use the same pilot training for both aircraft.

Although the COMAC plane is larger, the cockpits will be common enough to reduce training between the two planes to make it easier to get a type certification.

Both companies have contracted with Hamilton Sundstrand for the electrical systems.

Having common features would make it more attractive for airlines to buy both planes for their fleets and compete with wide offerings of Boeing and Airbus.

The deal doesn’t involve any transfer of financing or ownership in Bombardier. It also would have no job impact. Bombardier already has more than 100 employees working in China.

Bombardier and COMAC said they will continue to explore other opportunities for procurement along with synergies in development and customer services.

Benoit Poirier of Desjardins Securities said the agreement pushes CSeries orders from China a step closer to fruition.

The CSeries is slated for entry into service in late 2013 while the C919 is set for 2016.

The Bombardier plane has 138 firm orders while the Chinese aircraft has 175 firm orders.

Bombardier is the world’s third-largest commercial aircraft manufacturer and largest maker of trains. Founded in 2008, COMAC is China’s main commercial aircraft company.

©The Canadian Press