Next Spring, Delta Air Lines is expected to put the first of its new Bombardier C Series airliners into service. The new ultra-fuel-efficient, long-range jets are expected to be based in New York and Los Angeles.
However, the importance of these base locations cannot be overstated. New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas are not only three of the most highly competitive markets in the country, they are also home to American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, which are two of Delta’s most important rivals.
With the C-Series, Delta has a long-range, ultra-fuel efficient, 100-seat jet capable of making money in markets where competition has depressed profits. In addition, the new Bombardier jet will allow Delta to operate mainline service in markets that traditionally were serviced by smaller regional jets.
In April 2016, Bombardier Aerospace and Delta Air Lines announced a mega order for 75 of the company’s C Series airliners in a deal worth up to $US5.6 billion. Shortly after the deal’s announcement, Bombardier flew one of its C Series demonstrators down to Delta’s Atlanta headquarters for journalists and the airline’s staff to get a closer look.
Although Bombardier has been a global leader in business and regional jets, the C Series is the first product from the Canadian aeroplane to compete against Boeing and Airbus in the mainline market. The decision to enter the market with the C Series was a major financial gamble for Bombardier, with a program price tag of $US5.5 billion. Since its inception more than a decade ago, the aircraft has been beset by a series of development delays and slow sales.
In 2015, the aeroplane maker was forced to write down $US4.4 billion and take a $US1 billion bailout from the Quebec government. Even as it struggled to close a sale, Bombardier was credited with building an aircraft that’s one of the most capable on the market today — besting rivals Boeing and Airbus in terms of efficiency and ability.
With the Delta order, Bombardier has not only found a US launch customer for the C Series, but it has the blockbuster deal it needed to validate the attractiveness of aircraft to other prospective buyers.
Here’s a closer look at the airliner:
Delta chose the smaller CS100, but expect the airline to switch some of its order to the larger CS300 down the road.
A major contributor to the Bombardier's efficiency is its lightweight aluminium and composite body. Incredibly, Air Baltic and SWISS have both reported that the C Series has delivered fuel economy better than what was promised by Bombardier.
In addition, its pair of Pratt & Whitney PW1500G geared turbofan engines are some of the most fuel efficient on the market and help make the aeroplane 15% cheaper to operate than aircraft currently in production.
According to Bombardier, the C Series also emits 20% less carbon dioxide during operation and is the quietest airliner on the market.
In January of 2016, then Delta CEO Richard Anderson cited the aeroplane's engines as a major reason for the airline's interest in the C Series.
With a range of more than 3,500 miles, the CS100 allows Delta to operate routes its smaller jets had not been able to reach before.
Step inside the Bombardier's cabin and you'll find a surprisingly spacious interior for a relatively small 108-seat aircraft.
Look toward the back of the plane and you see the CS100's five-abreast seating configuration in economy class. That means there's only one middle seat per row as opposed to two per row on the rival Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 family jets.
Since the aircraft presented to the press was one of Bombardier's demonstrators, the interior did not have Delta's seats, lighting, and in-flight entertainment systems. But the cabin layout is accurate.
Even with Delta's specified interior, the CS100 should have the widest economy seats on the market at 19 inches. But the seat pitch should remain Delta's standard 30 to 31 inches, which is solid but not industry-leading.
Bombardier designed the CS100's overhead bins to open 5 inches lower, which makes it easier to load baggage. The overhead bins are also designed to hold oversize carry-on luggage.
In the cockpit, the C Series features five large, 15.1-inch displays. Here's Capt. Steve Paradis, who helped fly the plane down to Atlanta from Montreal.
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