Mirabel is Bursting at the Seams - Part 1
C Series Factory
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10:30 - September 6, 2017 - Quebec, Canada
Bombardier is about to increase the C Series delivery rate while Mirabel is already bursting at the seams.
The next aircraft to come off the assembly line was supposed to be MSN 55027 according to one source, and MSN 55025 according to another. Obviously it cannot be both at the same time. So I had to verify these contradictory informations and I found out that the truth lies in between the two.
In fact MSN 55026 is the next aircraft that is due to come out of the final assembly line, while MSN 55025 is the last one that was delivered to the secondary assembly line for completion.
The final assembly line is the brand new building that was erected in 2013 (see picture above) at the Bombardier plant in Mirabel and where all the C Series, except for the first five FTVs, have been assembled to this day.
Inside that huge building there are two lines of three stations each, and these lines are fully interchangeable; which means any C Series variant can be built on either line and at any time, be it a CS100, CS300 or CS500.
When the aircraft comme off the final assembly line they are structurally complete but they have no interiors and no engines.
They then have to be moved to a secondary assembly line where the cabin equipment is installed, like wall panels, overhead bins, carpets, seats, galleys and toilets. That is also where the APU and the engines are installed, and where some preliminary tests are carried out.
Bombardier had originally planned to erect a secondary building alongside the brand new final assembly line. However, it was around this time that they started to run out of cash and therefore they had to postpone that portion of the project.
They still needed a facility though where they would be able to complete the aircraft when they come out of the assembly line, and that is why they decided to modify a substantial portion of the existing CRJ hangars, which had become underused by then, instead of going with a new construction that would have been built to be able to sustain much higher rates.
That decision made them save a great deal of money, but it was only meant to be a temporary solution until Bombardier would regain some financial stability.
From this point on I will call the final assembly building FAL 1, and the modified CRJ hangars FAL 2. FAL stands for Final Assembly Line.
If MSN 55026 is indeed the next aircraft that is scheduled to comme out of the final assembly line (FAL 1) this would mean there are already too many aircraft in the pipeline, as there would be no space to fit them all inside the FAL 2 hangars and they could find themselves in a situation where they would have to park somer aircraft outside.
There were already four C Series parked outside, but those were in long term storage for various reasons and have already been accounted for.
And if MSN 55025 is indeed the last aircraft that was delivered to FAL 2 this would also mean that there are presently at least 13 aircraft over there.
Please bear with me because this is a fairly complex situation and I will try to make this as clear as possible.
The next aircraft scheduled to be delivered to its customer is 55013. This one belongs to Swiss and would normally be the oldest aircraft in the current pipeline. It's not really the case though. I will break this down to help you visualize the situation:
MSN 55013, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 are presently in the FAL 2 pipeline, for a total of 13 aircraft. Note that all of them are CS300.
But it's actually more complicated than that, for at this stage of my account I need to tell you that completion of 55016's interior has been outsourced and the aircraft has been transferred to another facility located on the other side of the Mirabel airport, which belongs to Avianor.
This is the first of a long, but finite, series of aircraft that will be sent to Avianor to help completing the aircraft when they come out of FAL 1.
If you wonder why they are doing this, there are two reasons that can explain it: one is a lack of space at FAL 2, and the other is to help them to increase the C Series delivery rate.
My understanding is that Bombardier successfully sold the idea to the unionized workforce.
So if we subtract from the list the aircraft that is currently at Avianor, and I assume there will always be one there at any given time over the next few years, we are down to twelve aircraft inside the FAL 2 hangars.
But my understanding is that 50018 has been stored there for a very long time and 50019, which is its twin brother, was recently taken out of storage outside and both of them are now being completed in order to prepare them for delivery. That puts two more aircraft in FAL 2, for a total of 14 (13 - 1 + 2 = 14).
But there are only nine bays in that facility to take these aircraft in. This implies that as many as five aircraft would have to be placed somewhere else (14 - 9 = 5).
According to Sylvain Faust at least one of them had to be put inside that section of the CRJ hangars that have not been modified to accommodate the larger C Series (six bays). And apparently it was a real tour de force to bring it in because the door opening was too small for the C Series, which is taller than the CRJ.
See my previous article http://www.fliegerfaust.com/bombardier-is-running-out-of-space-and-out-of-time-2453962594.html on Fliegerfaust.
This leaves four aircraft without a home. But I don't know where they have put them because to my knowledge none of them has been parked outside.
As I have already said there were four aircraft outside in long term storage and they had already been accounted for. One of them (50019) has since been brought back inside FAL 2.
Since there are three bays in the paint shop, perhaps they can park one or two aircraft inside.
One of the bays is more or less permanently occupied by a C Series undergoing a paint job, an operation that normally takes about a week. And one of the other bays is occasionally required for the CRJ, which is delivered at a relatively slow pace nowadays.
So I assume that one or two bays at the paint shop might become available from time to time to park surplus aircraft when required.
But all this implies they would have to play musical chairs with various aircraft, depending on the availability of additional space.
And I imagine that when this becomes necessary, either in the paint shop or in the CRJ hangars that have not been modified, the employees involved in the operation must have the impression of being asked to shuffle deck chairs while the ship is sinking…
End of Part 1.
If you hold any useful information about C Series production feel free to contact me, confidentially, at the following address: email@example.com
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