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PHOTOS: Bombardier’s CSeries the most comfortable ride in the sky, but will airlines buy?

By Steven Luo and Tim Jue June 14, 2015 No Comments Print Share

PARIS — As Canadian airplane manufacturer Bombardier debuts its new mainline narrowbody airliner — the type of plane that’s the workhorse of global airline fleets — one question looms over the program: who is going to buy the plane?

Bombardier is leaning on a combination of passenger comforts and fuel savings to sell its CSeries — a family of airliners that can fly 100 to 150 passengers more than 3,000 nautical miles — to airlines. But its slow sales — just 243 firm orders, as compared to thousands for the somewhat larger planes offered by Boeing and Airbus in this market segment — could threaten the future of the entire company.

At a press event Sunday, the company showed off a CS100, painted in the colors of launch customer Swiss — the first, and to date only, blue-chip customer for the airplane — equipped with what promises to be the most spacious commercial short-haul cabin in the sky.

The airplane’s economy seats — at 18.5 inches wide with 19-inch middle seats, more than an inch wider than some of its competitors — and 20-inch aisle will give CSeries passengers unparalleled space, and extra-large windows and overhead bins are sure to please travelers.

Unfortunately for prospective passengers, it’s airlines that buy airplanes, not travelers. And airlines have recently been in the business of reducing the amount of personal space they make available in order to squeeze in more fare-paying customers.

Bombardier did confirm Sunday that the CSeries is exceeding advertised figures on range, fuel burn, payload and airfield performance. The airplane, according to Bombardier officials, is now expected to be able to fly 3,300 nautical miles, an improvement from the 2,950 nautical miles originally advertised.

Bombardier is now promising that the CSeries will be “more than” 10% more efficient than upcoming competition in its size class and more than 20% better than today’s airplanes.

The company said it will release updated performance figures on the CSeries during a press event Monday at Le Bourget.

Contact the writers at sluo@californiabeat.org and tjue@californiabeat.org

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