MIAMI — Following tradition, Bombardier provided several updates on its aircraft programs at the first media briefing at the 2015 Regional Airline Association Convention. The airfamer noted that it prefers to lead rather than follow.
The new president of Bombardier Commercial Aircraft who is on his fourth week of the job, Fred Cromer, made his first public appearance, and he provided an update on Bombardier to the media at RAA.
Cromer was joined by Todd Young, the Vice President of Customer Service, and Kevin Smith, the Vice President of Sales in the Americas.
Cromer started off the press conference by explaining that attending RAA was a bit like a homecoming as he recognized some of the people he worked with when at the airlines in the audience. Given his airline and aircraft leasing background, he said that “it seems only natural that I am now working for Bombardier.”
Despite mixed results with its Q-Series, CRJ, and CSeries programs, Cromer sees value in each program as each one has different strengths. Plus, each one has had significant milestones already this year.
There are more than 1,700 Bombardier aircraft on order or flying in North America, and Cromer sees North America as one of Bombardier’s best markets. Part of the success, is the partnerships and relationships Bombardier has with its customers, and Jonathan Ornstein, CEO of Mesa Air Group, was on hand to talk about the relationship between the two.
Mesa and Bombardier go back about 25 years as it was launch customer of the CRJ-900. Ornstein says he is very happy with Bombardier and their relationship as “they have stood behind us and with us.” He also knows the mainline airlines are happy with the CRJ-900 as American recently told him that the CRJ-900 is one of the most profitable regional aircraft they operate.
There have been several milestones for Q-Series program; it surpassed 500 orders, and Bombardier was able to get an order from GECAS, a leasing company, for some Q-400 aircraft. Despite some operating difficulties, Bombardier continues to see orders and many retrofits as the company has been able to find areas where airlines can operate the prop aircraft profitably.
Customers can use the Q-400 in four different configurations (single cabin, dual-class cabin, extra capacity).
Since the average number of seats on a flight has increased, Bombardier believes strongly in its Q-Series program as they are able to add more capacity and make improvements to keep the orders coming in.
CRJ Program Update
What do Michael Jordan and the CRJ have in common? According to Bombardier, they are both a MVP; in particular, the CRJ-900 is Bombardier’s MVP as it helps rightsize for specific markets, according to the executives.
The manufacturer plans to keep the CRJ-900 around until about 2020, but in 2020, it plans to have the fuel savings down by double digit numbers as it continues to improve the aircraft. Executives believe that there are still many opportunities with the CRJ-900. Plus, they have the CRJ-1000 that are ready to go, but orders have been difficult due to the Scope Clause as the operating economics are a bit difficult when there is the cap on the number of seats.
Bombardier has completed approximately 70% of the certification process for the CSeries, and it is on target to achieve certification by the end of the year; the launch customer of the new aircraft will be Swiss which was announced earlier this month.
Todd Young, the Vice President of Customer Service at Bombardier, also provided an update from his perspective; they have been hard at work developing the entry into service plan from the customer support side. He believes that they have a good road map, and they will be providing maintenance, training, start up support, and more to all of its customers when they get their first aircraft.
There is a lot of momentum behind the CSeries program with the recent announcement of the launch customer of the CSeries and that there are six aircraft currently participating in the flight testing program. Plus, Bombardier will be bringing the CSeries to this year’s Paris Air Show, and it will even take part in the flying. After the Paris Air Show, the CSeries aircraft will fly to Zurich to visit Swiss.
With this momentum, there seems to be a buzz around the convention that orders for the CSeries will pick up. That remains to be seen, but things appear to be moving positively with all of the recent momentum.