With Bombardier insisting that the first of the CSeries family is now firmly on a schedule to reach the market next year, the airframer is transitioning from technical requirements to filling an order book that had appeared to stall. “Clearly the focus now is shifting to how we start increasing the backlog,” CEO Alain Bellemare told July 30 analysts during a second quarter earnings call.
Bombardier is aggressively pursuing a strategy that targets key airlines, Bellemare said. He added that the performance boost announced during the Paris Air Show drew “tremendous interest from customers…The activities we saw were really surprising in a good way.” About a half-dozen potential customers have shown interest over the past few weeks.
Bellemare acknowledged that questions have surrounded the CSeries order book, but said: “We have sufficient aircraft…to ramp up production while still working with airlines to add to the backlog.” He also conceded that filling the backlog will take time, but noted that the CSeries fits in a 7,000-aircraft market and “it is a long cycle.”
The manufacturer reported firm orders for 53 CS100s and 190 CS300s as of the end of the second quarter. This was unchanged from the end of 2014 except for a 10-aircraft shift from launch customer Swiss International. The airline converted 10 of its 30 firm-ordered CS100s to the larger CS300, adding about $90 million to the value of the deal.
Bombardier expects to secure certification for the CS100 by the end of the year, with the CS300 following six months later. Swiss International expects to put the first CS100 into service in the first half of 2016. Bombardier estimates that the certification flight test program for the CS100 is about 75 percent complete.
While focus remains on bringing the costly CSeries to market, revenues for Bombardier’s Commercial Aircraft programs dropped 21 percent in the second quarter to $598 million with deliveries falling five units to 19. The commercial unit lost $10 million (earnings before interest and taxes), but the results largely were in line with guidance.