Supply Chain Matters has featured past commentaries concerning Bombardier and its efforts to make its presence as an aircraft provider in the single-aisle market and compete with the likes of an Airbus or Boeing. Prediction Five of our 2014 Predictions for Global Supply Chains specifically highlights the unique challenges facing aerospace in 2014, and indeed Bombardier challenges within the industry.
The company’s newly developed C-Series of aircraft were designed to offer prospective air carriers a technologically advanced single aisle aircraft at perhaps a more cost competitive option for airlines.
Bombardier embarked on a huge strategic gamble on the supply chain deployment and market launch of the new and innovative C-Series aircraft which was originally slated for market introduction in 2013. The C-Series supply chain is also global in scope. Major components such as fuselage wings and tail are sourced in China, Ireland, Italy, and other countries. In a posting earlier this year, we speculated whether Bombardier as a disruptor could compete with the two other aerospace giants.
Our last update on Bombardier and its C-Series program was in highlighting the milestone of first maiden flight. The completion of maiden voyage of the C-Series aircraft placed the program roughly nine months behind original schedule, which is not all that bad considering the development track records of major rivals. However, there were lingering concerns regarding actual orders. As of September there were 177 booked orders for the aircraft.
Last week, the company announced that it replaced its sales chief for commercial aircraft, Raymond Jones a sales executive in the existing business aircraft division, was appointed as the new Senior Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Asset Management succeeding the previous incumbent. According to reporting by the Wall Street Journal, the appointment was immediate. Jones joined Bombardier in 2010 from General Electric’s aviation business unit. The WSJ noted that Jones’s style “often diverged from the more conservative approach favored by the Canadian aircraft maker, causing internal tension about the most effective strategy to sell its 100-to160 seat CSeries jetliner…” The WSJ article further speculated that Jones would now be provided more latitude in sales strategy.
As supply chain executives and sales and operations planning teams often know, a change in overall sales leadership is often a sign of the need for far different sales and marketing tactics. In the case of Bombardier, it could well imply more aggressive sales tactics to gather more C-Series orders. With competitors Airbus and Boeing currently quoting more extended delivery timetables due to capacity and other operational constraints it not all that out of the question that Bombardier would compete on more timely delivery slots and more aggressive pricing of the C-Series.
All of the above are signs of subsequent impacts to Bombardier’s global supply, operations and fulfillment strategies. There may well be further sales opportunities for Bombardier in the current capacity constrained industry environment. Whether its supply chain can orchestrate efforts that support more aggressive sales strategies is a work-in progress and bears continued observation.