Boeing has a new rival. The day before the Farnborough Air Show opens, Canadian plane-builder Bombardier Sunday officially launched its...
LONDON, U.K.. — Boeing has a new rival.
The day before the Farnborough Air Show opens, Canadian plane-builder Bombardier Sunday officially launched its CSeries single-aisle jet that will compete with the Boeing 737 and the Airbus A320 airplane families.
The jet will be available in 2013, executives said.
The CSeries fuselage will be built in China from a light aluminium-lithium alloy, then shipped complete to the final assembly site in Montreal.
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The wings, made from carbon fiber-reinforced composites, will be built in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
The launch customer is German flag carrier Lufthansa, which signed “letters of interest” for 30 of the 110- and 130-seat airplanes. Those versions are the size of a Boeing 737-600 and 737-700, respectively.
Bombardier program director Benjamin Boehm said the plane will be 20 percent more efficient than the smaller regional jets made by Embraer, and will have an even larger percentage advantage, “in the high 20s,” over the Boeing jets.
Boehm said Bombardier could deliver almost 20 of the jets each month at peak rates.
The plane’s development costs — about $3.2 billion — will be financed one third by the company and one third by its suppliers, Bombardier said.
The remaining third of the funding will come from the national governments of Canada and the U.K., and the regional governments of Quebec and Northern Ireland.
These launch aid subsidies could potentially be challenged at the World Trade Organization, where the U.S. has a pending suit against the European Union to stop government launch aid to Airbus. (And the EU has a countersuit to stop Boeing subsidies.)
Further CSeries order commitments are expected at Farnborough this week from leasing giant ILFC and Qatar Airways. Negotiations are also continuing with China Southern, but aren’t expected to be concluded during the Air Show.
The American and European aerospace giants have until now had the market for airliners larger than 100 seats all to themselves. Bombardier has previously built only business jets and regional jets with less than 100 seats.
In addition to advanced materials, Bombardier’s bold play to enter the airspace of Boeing and Airbus relies on a radical new engine technology. The plane’s fuel efficiency is derived mostly from Pratt & Whitney’s geared turbofan engine, which has still to fly and is unproven in terms of reliability.