I was fortunate enough to attend the Dubai Airshow this year which was held at Al Maktoum International Airport from November 8th to 12th. As part of the various events and substantial flying program, I was invited along with my friend Bernie to attend a press conference and aircraft tour of the new Bombardier CSeries which was present on the static display.
The CSeries has been the center of much media hype and excitement even though it has not always been smooth sailing for the company. Despite the various challenges facing Bombardier at the present time, all the staff were incredibly positive and excited to showcase their aircraft on its first debut in the Middle East. Following a rather spirited press conference where many questions were posed by local media with regards to the regulatory and political complications of selling the aircraft to Middle Eastern Airlines, it was time for the AvGeek’s favorite moment: the aircraft tour!
At the time of the aircraft’s debut at the Dubai Airshow, Bombardier was in the final stages of receiving certification from Transport Canada; as such the aircraft on display was a test model without an official certificate of airworthiness. In practice this means that there are a few extra placards on the aircraft and not all equipment is fully operational, however the interior and exterior are identical to what it will be once it enters full scale production post certification.
The Bombardier CS300, the newest commercial aircraft on the market, made its maiden flight just after 11:00 a.m. yesterday at Montreal’s Mirabel airport. The larger CSeries variant follows the smaller CS100, which took to the skies 17 months ago.
For Bombardier, this is a significant step forward for a project which has seen its share of challenges. As a “clean-sheet” aircraft design, such challenges are not unexpected; Boeing and Airbus experienced similar delays with the 787 and A350, respectively. Bombardier’s new CEO, Alain M. Bellemare, described the event as “an inflection point” in the CSeries project, “where we’re finally reaching momentum and we can go to market with a solid product for our customers.”
The test flight came on the second day of the three-day window Bombardier allotted for the event. Initial plans to run the test flight on Thursday were hampered by cold weather, wind, and snow earlier in the week in Mirabel; that weather prevented final pre-flight testing from happening. It was colder yesterday than earlier in the week – probably the coldest first flight ever – but the low temperatures did not prevent the first flight.
With both the CS100 and CS300 now flying, the company is able to aggressively push towards the completion of the flight test regimen and enter the airliner into service. It is also worth noting that the CSeries plan is somewhat unusual in having both types flying test flights concurrently rather than a sequential process of EIS on the first followed by testing of the second. Delays in the CS100 test program can be blamed in part for these circumstances.
The CSeries aircraft promises a more comfortable passenger cabin combined with lower costs for the airlines and quieter operations for the passengers and those who live near the airports. While the interior of the CS300 is not yet on display to media, the noise aspect was demonstrated during the first flight departure; the CRJ900 – a quiet plane in its own right – was notably louder than the CS300 flying just ahead of it during the first flight departure.
Continue reading Bombardier CSeries CS300 Achieves First Flight on AirwaysNews.com
Bombardier’s in a bad way lately. Their stock has hit some heavy chop, recently dropping 32% in a three-day period. There’s a margin warning. The company is pricing in a “bankruptcy scenario”. On top of that, the stock fell 11% after they announced the removal of their troubled CEO.
The company is ridiculously leveraged. The cost of a credit default swap on Bombardier has risen 500 basis points. There are even serious questions regarding the company’s liquidity.
This whole mess started when the company announced that it was “pausing” its advanced, composite, Learjet 85 for an indefinite period of time due to lack of demand. Now, canceling a business jet should not result in massive investor panic and questions over the viability of a commercial program. The problem is, Bombardier finances a lot of its projects off of the revenue generated by its business jet division and debt. The CRJ and Q400 program, along with trains, are relatively low margin.
There’s a reason investors are starting to, in the words of one firm “[give] up hope.”
Bombardier is suspending its shareholder dividends and working on raising an additional $2.1 billion in capital.
The thing is, in the paraphrased words of Richard Aboulafia at the Teal Group, these moves display a startling amount of intelligence and transparency. The question is, is it too late for Bombardier?