CSeries Production Update - 3rd Party Involvement and more...
Will this really be just a temporary solution?
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10:00am - June 21, 2017 - Quebec, Canada
- By subcontracting the interior finishing of some CSeries hulls to Avianor, Bombardier gives impetus to its delivery capacity -
Does the CSeries limited partnership (50.5% Bombardier Inc. / 49.5% Quebec Government) need some boost, albeit temporarily?
Last weekend marked the auspicious moment where a CSeries CS300 aircraft (MSN 55016) was unceremoniously towed to a 3rd party facility at Mirabel airport to help with its interior completion. On Sunday morning June 18, 2017 Avianor (http://www.avianor.com) thus welcomed its first "green" (an unpainted empty hull) CSeries aircraft.
The firm has been awarded a contract for the performing of some finishing touches on some CSeries aircraft, and this, "concurrently" with ongoing similar operations at Bombardier's own CSeries facility.
Avianor will take delivery of the aircrafts just past the point on the assembly line where the wings are attached to the fuselage. It will then complete all the work related to the interior finishing after which the hull will be sent back to Bombardier for engine installation and painting.
This is certainly good news for CSeries clients who are eagerly waiting for the delivery of their aircrafts. This boost of the production tempo has been deemed necessary to not only reach the desired level but to also attain the current goal.
From what I've learned so far, Avianor has been assigned 7 CSeries aircraft for interior completion, 4 are CS300 and 3 CS100.
That raises a few questions…
Will this really be just a temporary solution?
Bombardier has decided to rent hangar space from Air Canada at Montreal Trudeau YUL airport to be used for CSeries completion work. This, also, should be a stopgap measure helping speed up the delivery of some CSeries to a specific customer before the end of the year. Those CSeries aircraft would be flown to Montreal Trudeau for the installation of some client specific systems prior of their delivery. To me, this seems to point to the early Korean Airlines CSeries units.
From the currently anticipated 30 CSeries deliveries in 2017, Bombardier expects to roll out about 40 in 2018, 60 in 2019, increasing its rate to 120 / year at one point (10 per month!).
Not only is CSeries making good use of the new building added at Bombardier Mirabel CRJ facility (aka The New CSeries Building), but it is also spreading into over half of the space previously assigned to the CRJ production. As we know, CRJ production is a bit slower, --to the tune of about 1 aircraft per 10 day--, compared to the current CSeries production of almost one per 6 day.
We already have seen how this reflected into the higher CSeries delivery throughput of the past few weeks.
The goal with CSeries is to bring that down to a 3 day production cycle… yes, you heard it, one airliner per 3 day. That cranks the total annual CSeries delivery up to 120 aircrafts, or 10 per month… which is what Bombardier has stated publicly as the ultimate goal for the new factory that was planned years ago. Couple this with rather tall new orders on the CRJ coming soon and you get to understand the current space struggle at the CRJ and CSeries production site.
One CSeries per 3 day… But, did Bombardier built the new CSeries factory as it was planned at first on which such a production target has been based on?
No, is what I'm told.
Why? Money! The investment budget was revised down. Ah… As you know, the CSeries project did cost an extra US $2 billion than "budgeted", from US $3.4 billion to US $5.4 billion (I purposely choosed the word "budgeted" rather than "expected" because I'm "assuming" that somewhere, somehow, someone knew… I know, am I assuming too much?) Obviously, Bombardier do not need my advice as they know perfectly well how to manage the "unexpected" in such a highly technical, cutting edge and so expansive domain, I hope… But then, I knew right from the start there were to be cost overruns … been there done that…
Here, I'm assuming the top management knew too. Question is, did they manage accordingly… meaning: managing expectations but for foremost asking for money to pay for all of this before all financial institutions knew they needed more and, --even more so--, were already out of it? It seems to me the answer is very close to a flat no. Anyway, that's another topic all by itself.
"Wow Sylvain, slow down" and "Hey Sylvain, you're not an engineer!", something I've heard a "few" times in my lifetime (Big Smile). As for Bombardier, well, there's a new sheriff in town. Without firing a single shot, Alain Bellemare has totally re-arranged the management team around him. And this for about everything Bombardier produces that flies or roll.
Something most people don't talk about is that engineering was not the problem at Bombardier. Designed and built from scratch an aircraft performing above and beyond its original endearing specifications. I'm looking forward the release of CSeries and Global 7000 updated specs.
What about now?
As I pointed out, the original factory planned is not exactly what was built. The projected facility had better fluidity between the different CSeries stages of assembly toward the delivery of each aircraft, having its own paint shop, etc. allowing for a deeply efficient and quick production.
In light of this, I could imagine the process of ramping up CSeries production is putting some stress on the factory workers, their planners as more aircraft movements are required while at the same time trying to cut on cost.
It makes sense to me that not so far ahead, the CSeries production will come to a point where more space and employees are required at the CSeries factory in Mirabel to reach the one CSeries airplane per 3 day target. Mirabel airport is definitively a good place to have to live through such growing pains, with so much available space to expand all around. This airport is the perfect place to build and test airplanes. It features 2 major 12,000 ft runways, large holding bays, round-the-clock operations, plenty of available space around the runways for new buildings… And Bombardier has empty space just next to its current facility to expand multiple times.
Back to the use of a 3rd party facility to help with some interior completion on a few aircrafts, wouldn't it be wise to communicate clearly, to drive home, to the employees the "temporary" nature of this solution and not just a clever way to circumvent the current unions and Bombardier employees, if that's the case?
Keep posted for more on this...