Browsing Tag: Porter Airlines

Mr. Robert Deluce, Porter Airlines President & CEO (center) with his teamafter CSeries Flight Test Vehicle 1's (FTV1) first flight on September 16, 2013.

Mr. Robert Deluce, Porter Airlines President & CEO (center) with his team
after CSeries Flight Test Vehicle 1’s (FTV1) first flight on September 16, 2013.

It’s been over six months since Porter Airlines announced their conditional order to buy up to 30 Bombardier CS100s. In order to finalize the order, Porter needs permission from the City of Toronto to operate the CS100s at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ), and has asked for extensions to be added to both ends of the main runway at the waterfront airport. Currently, jets are not allowed to operate from YTZ, and Porter flies Bombardier Q400 turboprops from their YTZ base.

BONUS:  Review- Flying Porter Airlines From Toronto to Montreal and Back

On Thursday morning, Toronto’s Deputy City Manager filed a report that analyzed Porter’s requests. Simply, it says that granting approval is premature. Among issues cited, there isn’t yet enough noise or operational performance data on the CS100; runway extension impact and noise modelling has not been completed; and there isn’t a clear direction or plan for YTZ’s expansion, and how it will be funded is in question.

In addition, the agreement banning jets at YTZ expires in 2033, and the report says that the impact of Porter’s request should be considered before this no-jet-noise agreement is extended. Overall, the report recommends that research continue, and that a new report be filed in March 2015. Thursday’s report will be considered by the City’s Executive Committee on December 5th, and depending on the outcome, by the full Council on December 16th.

CS100 Flight Test Vehicle 1 (FTV1) during fuel flow testing

CS100 Flight Test Vehicle 1 (FTV1) during fuel flow testing.
Photo: Bombardier Aerospace

Here’s what’s been going on with the Bombardier CSseries over the past few weeks:

  • Bombardier announced that their team had completed the CSeries Complete Airframe Static Testing (CAST) for Safety of Flight.  This was the last of seven tests required for obtaining flight certification for the CS100 from Transport Canada.  In step with the Static Testing, the CS100 “Aircraft 0” Integrated Systems Test Rig has been “flying” since last August.
  • On June 4, Moscow-based leasing company Ilyushin Finance Co (IFC), firmed up its order for 32 CS300s, along with options for 10 more CS300s.  That brings the CSeries firm orders up to 177 aircraft.
  • On the same day, it was revealed that Gulf Air is the previously undisclosed customer for 10 CS100s that have been part of the firm order book since June 2011.  Gulf Air also holds options for 6 additional CS100s.
  • Bombardier’s President, Pierre Beaudoin, has said that they’re on schedule for the first flight of the CS100 by the end of June.  There’s been speculation that the first flight would happen before the Paris Air Show, which starts June 17th.  But Chet Fuller, Bombardier’s Senior Commercial VP dismissed the rumors.  However, Flight Test Vehicle 1 (FTV1) was moved to Bombardier’s flight test centre last week.
  • And following up on our earlier story about Porter Airlines’ order for CS100s, Toronto City Council recently voted to hire independent consultants to analyze the Porter proposal.  Porter’s order for 12 CS100s is conditional on getting a 500 foot extension built on each end of the main runway at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ).  Some results of the study will be reported to Toronto’s Executive Council in early July, with the issue expected to return to full council in November.

What do you think?  Will FTV1 not fly until June 30th?  Or will they try for the first flight while the Paris Air Show is on?  If so, I’m thinking it would be great PR, and support for their marketing efforts at the show.

This story written by… Howard Slutsken, Correspondent.  Howard has been an AvGeek since he was a kid, watching TCA Super Connies, Viscounts and early jets at Montreal’s Dorval Airport. He’s a pilot who loves to fly gliders and pretty well anything else with wings. Howard is based in Vancouver, BC.

@HowardSlutsken

Bombardier CS100 see in Porter Airways livery.

Bombardier CS100 seen in Porter Airlines livery.

On Wednesday, Porter Airlines President Robert Deluce announced that his airline will be the Canadian launch customer for Bombardier’s next-generation jetliner, the CS100.  The conditional order is for 12 CS100s, along with options for an additional 18 aircraft.

The CS100 can fly with up to 110 passengers, with a range of about 5,400 km or just under 3,000 miles, turning Porter into a potential transcontinental carrier.  But there are BIG challenges in store for Mr. Deluce and his team at Porter.

The CS100 needs 4,800 feet of runway at maximum take-off weight. As you might have read in AirlineReporter.com’s story on Porter Airlines, they are based at Toronto’s downtown Billy Bishop Toronto Island Airport (YTZ).  The Q400 turboprops that Porter and Air Canada fly from YTZ operate efficiently and safely from the airport.  I got my pilot’s license there in the early 1980s, and the longest runway at the airport is only 4,000 feet.  With water at both ends.

BONUS: The First Bombardier CSeries Rolls Out of the Factory

Adding to the runway challenge is the “no jets” restriction in place at the airport.  Porter is likely going to face a huge battle with the various residents’ associations and the City of Toronto.

The CS100s may be as quiet as the Q400s, thanks to their new-tech Pratt & Whitney PW1500G geared turbofans.  Mr. Deluce kept coming back to that point in his press conference yesterday. But nobody really knows, because the CS100 hasn’t yet flown.

I’m guessing that these are the reasons for the conditional order.

BONUS: Interior (mock up) Tour of the Bombardier CSeries in Montreal

So what does Mr. Deluce have up his sleeve?  Will he operate the CS100s with less than 110 seats, limiting the take-off weight, so that the plane needs less runway?  He says that he’s going to ask the City of Toronto to extend the main runway by 500 feet at both ends, but how many years will it take for the debate and decision, not to mention the construction?  Or will he establish a new base for the CS100s at another airport? And what about the “no jets” restriction at YTZ?

This is going to be very interesting!  I’m sure that both Air Canada and Westjet are watching closely.

This story written by… Howard Slutsken, Correspondent.Howard has been an AvGeek since he was a kid, watching TCA Super Connies, Viscounts and early jets at Montreal’s Dorval Airport. He’s a pilot, and gets away to fly gliders whenever he can.  Howard is based in Vancouver, BC.    

@HowardSlutsken

PORTER AIRLINES REVIEW BASICS:

Airline: Porter Airlines
Aircraft: Bombardier Q400
Route: Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ) to Montreal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL)
Class: Economy
Seats: 13B (aisle) and 15D (window)
Length: About 70 minutes (each way)

Cheers: Everyone gets treated like they are flying first class — including free wine and beer.
Jeers: Some people might not like riding on a turbo-prop.
Overall: This is the way flying should be — and a rarity to find it on a regional carrier.

Porter Airlines Bombardier Q400 sits at Toronto.

Porter Airlines Bombardier Q400 sits at Toronto.

THE FULL PORTER AIRLINES REVIEW:

During a recent trip to Toronto, I had the opportunity to fly to Montreal and back using Porter airlines (disclosure: the trip was paid for by Bombardier to check out their Cseries in Montreal). Being based in Seattle and flying Horizon/Alaska quite a bit, I am no stranger to the Q400 aircraft. There have been quite a few times that when I talk to people about the Q400, I am asked if I have tried Porter Airlines. Luckily, I can now say that I have — and that is a good thing.

When flying Porter Airlines,  getting to the airport was half the fun. I walked about a mile (could have easily taken a cab, bus or subway, but it was a nice morning), hopped on a shuttle bus, then took the world’s shortest ferry ride. For those that love anything that involves transportation, the experience is pretty cool. So why a ferry? Well, that is kind of a long story.

After arriving at Billy Bishop airport, be sure to turn around and catch the view of the ferry with Toronto in the background.

After arriving at Billy Bishop airport, be sure to turn around and catch the view of the ferry with Toronto in the background.

Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is located on an island in Toronto and is restricted to  prop aircraft and helicopters. When Porter first began looking at starting operations there, they were under the assumption that a bridge would be built to allow easy access. There was some fun political stuff that went down and no bridge has been built. Instead, the airport runs a small ferry that can hold cars and passengers from the “mainland” over to the island. Don’t blink, because you might miss the ride — it is the shortest ferry ride in the world.

The Toronto Port Authority is in the process of creating a pedestrian tunnel that will allow easier access and reduce the onslaught of passengers that come with each arriving ferry. The ferry will still operate once the tunnel is completed (which they are expecting to be done in 2014), to handle car traffic and presumably passengers who want to get the full experience.

I was staying in downtown Toronto and decided to make the one mile walk to the Royal York Hotel, where Porter Airlines operates a free shuttle to the ferry . Even with the walk, shuttle and ferry, it was less than an hour from my hotel room to my gate, which was quite impressive.

Porter Airlines waiting area is nicer than some airline first class lounges I have been in -- and everyone gets access.

Porter Airlines waiting area is nicer than some airline first class lounges I have been in -- and everyone gets access.

Since all I had was a camera, it was quick and easy for me to get through security. Every time I go through airport security any place that is not in the US, I am reminded how much better it can be. I was greeted with a big smile and asked how I was doing (what… is this a trick?). I asked if I needed to take off my shoes and I was told no. He looked at my belt and said, “that might make the alarm go off,” and I explained it never had before and he let me through (very different from the barking orders that the TSA gives).

This is when things really get different. Instead of having a bunch of uncomfortable seats with bad lighting, the Porter Airlines waiting area is like a first class lounge — and a good one at that. I have been in a few first class lounges of other airlines that have been worse than Porter’s waiting area. There are free drinks and snacks, nothing major, but still impressive. There is free wifi and plenty of comfortable seating.This all comes at no extra charge and is just part of the Porter experience.

Before my flight I had an opportunity to sit down with Brad Cicero and Amanda Ashford, with Porter communications, to learn a bit more about the airline. They explained to me that Porter is looking to add some paid options in their lounge, including ready-to-go food and alcohol.

Porter Airlines offers a comfortable cabin that feels high-end, especially for a regional prop airliner.

Porter Airlines offers a comfortable cabin that feels high-end, especially for a regional prop airliner.

Each flight is clearly announced and people line up at one of three doors before heading to one of ten gates. With most regional prop aircraft, you have to (well “get to” for airline fans) go on the tarmac to board. This can be okay some times of the year, but winter in Toronto has a way of getting a bit cold. So, the airline helped to design a customized boot to allow an inside hallway to connect to the aircraft, keeping passengers out of the elements.

The Q400 is not known for having spacious overhead bins (although the Q400nextgen does do a pretty good job) If you have a larger carry-on, you can give it to the Porter employee at the gate and they will return it to you once you land. This is a similar service that Alaska and Frontier Airlines also offer on their Q400s.

Porter has arranged their Q400s with a 34″ seat pitch with 70 seats vs the typical 78 seat set up. All the seats are leather and the interior uses lighter color tones. It felt more like someone’s personal aircraft than an airliner. On both my flights I had a seat mate, which didn’t give me too much room side-to-side — although I am a bit bigger of a guy. I was sitting in the aisle going to Montreal and I would really have to bring my shoulder in from being hit by people passing in the aisle.

Yea, this might have been a 11:30am flight (8:30am Seattle time), but I had to test out the free wine for my story.

Yea, this might have been a 11:30am flight (8:30am Seattle time), but I had to test out the free wine for my story.

Just because the flight was only an hour doesn’t mean that passengers don’t get full service. A bit after take off the flight attendants started down the aisle giving out meal boxes and drinks. On the way to Montreal I had a chicken sandwich with pasta and on the way back was a chicken wrap with veggies. Now, these are not full meal portions, but way more than you would expect in economy on almost any other domestic airline. Not to mention you also get free beer or wine — in a real glass.

The flight attendants have classic uniforms that look professional and the four I was able to interact with seemed to actually enjoy their job and positively interacted with passengers, even though they had a short time line to complete their service.

The weather in Montreal was foggy and a bit snowy, so we did not see the ground until we almost touched down. Even sitting near the rear of the plane, it is always a quick de-boarding process on the Q400.

Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ) seen from the Porter Airlines Q400.

Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ) seen from the Porter Airlines Q400.

After a few hours in Montreal, I was back at the airport ready to take another ride on Porter. The ride back was equally enjoyable. This is an airline that seems to be in at the right place at the right time, offering the right service.

They are working towards getting US Customers Pre-Clearance in Toronto, so that they can expand routes into the US that do not have customs. Porter is also planning to bring lounges to additional airports that they serve like Montreal and Newark, sometime in the future.

Previously the airline has not turned a profit and has been around 50% passenger load. Once completing the numbers for 2011, they are hoping to show a profit and occupancy loads to be around 60%, helping to fuel future growth for this unique airline.

VIEW ALL 20 PHOTOS FROM MY PORTER AIRLINES FLIGHT