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Bombardier juggling CSeries supplier issues to stay on schedule

CEO suggests he’d be lying if he said everything with the development of the plane maker’s new jets was OK


September 23, 2011
by The Canadian Press

MONTREAL—Bombardier hopes it can deliver the CSeries on time despite juggling several challenges that include sourcing the main fuselage from China, the plane-maker’s CEO says.

Guy Hachey  says building the 110- to 149-seat aircraft for delivery by the end of 2013 is more worrisome than receiving orders because none of its suppliers have been on time.

“It is something that is systemic in our industry and we’re trying to fight that. We’re trying to convince the world that we’ll be on time, which nobody believes,” he says.

Hachey says the Montreal-based manufacturer gave itself 5 and a half years to develop the new aircraft from scratch, more than other plane makers planned for their new entries.

The plan also follows a decentralized model that relies on key suppliers, something that large rivals such a Boeing have only started to adopt.

Still, it faces about five to six pressure points in the plane’s development. They include fly-by-wire, avionics, electronics and composite wings.

“The fact that we’ve sourced a major structure in China, long-term it had a lot of strategic and cost reasons for it, but also there’s a learning curve with that effort,” says Hachey.

The plane’s development has been valued at $3.5 billion but there are still a number of potential trouble spots for the plane that’s supposed to save 20 per cent in fuel and 15 per cent lower operating costs.

“I would be lying if I was saying that everything was OK,” says Hachey.

Still, he says Bombardier has enough room at the end of the program’s development schedule to absorb a few months of delays here and there.

In terms of orders, Bombardier is targeting to have 23 customers with some 300 orders by the time the plane enters into service. Leasing companies are looking for about 40 customers.

It currently has received 133 firm orders, 119 options and 10 purchase rights for the two sizes of CSeries. It also has a letter-of-intent signed last month for up to 30 additional aircraft.