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.
My first impression upon entering the aircraft was how wide the cabin is compared to similar regional jets in the same class. Bombardier claims to have the widest economy class seats on any regional jet in service. The economy layout will be 2-3 while the business class configuration will be 2-2, but I suspect most carriers will opt for the very popular “Euro J” business class, which means the same layout as economy with just the middle seat being blocked.
This aircraft is currently used as a test-bed meaning that whilst it does have a business and economy class cabin mock-up, there is also a flight test station within the cabin. This is where the engineers sit and monitor various parameters during flight. This was quite exciting to see and provided much AvGeek eye-candy and unique photo opportunities.
The aircraft windows are a little on the small side but still more than sufficient to look out of. The biggest wow-factor for myself on the aircraft was how spacious the rear lavatory is. The pictures do not do it justice — it really is huge especially compared to most 737 or A320 lavatories.
Of course, no aircraft tour is complete without a visit to the flight deck. The Bombardier CSeries cockpit does not disappoint. It is again surprisingly spacious for a regional jet and provides pilots with a wealth of information via four multi-function displays, as well as two electronic flight bag displays, and a captains side HUD (head-up display). In a production first, Bombardier has selected to equip the CSeries with a side-stick in lieu of the classic yoke seen on all other Bombardier models. This option once again increases the already generous space available in the cockpit.
The CSeries is not only an impressive aircraft from a passenger and crew perspective but also in terms of economics. Bombardier claims that the aircraft has the best-in-class economics and efficiency with a 20 percent fuel burn advantage over other in-production aircraft. The Pratt & Whitney PurePower PW1500G engines and advanced aerodynamics help deliver an aircraft which outperforms in terms of take-off performance even in hot and high scenarios – making it an ideal candidate for Middle East operations.
Bombardier presently has firm orders for 243 CSeries CS100 & CS300 aircraft. The launch customer for the CS100 will be Swiss International Airlines with expected entry into service during the first half of next year. Bombardier announced the launch customer for the CS300 will be Latvia-based AirBaltic, which will use the aircraft to upgrade their aging fleet of Boeing 737-300/500s.
Despite the various challenges facing Bombardier at the present time, the Bombardier CSeries has the potential to be a successful aircraft. It will fill a vital gap in the 100-150 seat aircraft market and will deliver the largest regional jet in production with a 150-seat capacity. This will mean airlines will be able to operate a 150-seat aircraft with regional jet economics in play.