The Supply Chain Matters blog provides an update to our ongoing series of commentaries related to Bombardier’s

Bombardier C-Series

Source: Bombardier web site

Aerospace Group and its efforts to introduce a technologically advanced single-aisle aircraft, termed the CSeries that could compete with Aerospace industry dominants Airbus and Boeing in the smaller single-aisle aircraft segment.

Supply Chain Matters first introduced our readership to the CSeries program in October of 2010 under the headline:  CSeries Joins in the Global Supply Chain Outsourcing Perils of Aerospace.  At the time, we noted that Bombardier was taking a huge strategic gamble on the supply chain deployment and market launch of the new and innovative aircraft which was scheduled for market introduction in 2013. While the CSeries could have been a market disruptor as a timely alternative for airline customers, timing was all important.

In mid-September, the CSeries accomplished its first maiden flight amidst celebration at Bombardier’s headquarters near Montreal. At that time there were 177 orders for the C-Series, including an order for 60 aircraft from Lufthansa’s Swiss International Airlines. First customer ship was original planned for the end of 2013 but was adjusted to sometime in 2014.

This week comes word that first delivery of the C-Series family has now been pushed back at least nine months. A Bombardier press release issued yesterday indicates that entry into service is now anticipated to be the second-half of 2015, which is a considerable milestone slip after maiden flight. The release declares: “based on the thorough review of the CSeries program after the first flight of the CS100 on September 16, 2013, the flight test phase will require more time than originally anticipated to ensure, amongst other things, that the aircraft has the overall system maturity to support a successful entry-into-service.” Also noted was that CSeries suppliers are aligned with the program’s schedule adjustment and will continue to work closely to move the program steadily forward.

Readers can certainly make their own interpretation of this schedule slippage but it is the view of Supply Chain Matters that this is a meaningful setback. Suppliers anticipating revenue inflows have been handed a setback, not to mention, what may be going on behind the scenes. In its reporting, the Wall Street Journal declared that this setback was a blow to efforts to start competing with Airbus and Boeing in the market for small passenger jets. Bombardier itself will have to adsorb additional unplanned program costs.  In December, the company also changed its sales leadership chief for commercial aircraft which was a sign for far more aggressive sales and marketing tactics to gather additional orders.

Bombardier now joins the unflattering club of other major aerospace development programs who have experienced unanticipated or latter stage program delays. The CSeries B2B supply chain ecosystem must now adjust and make contingency plans.

Bob Ferrari