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From C to A

The past year has been a defining one for the Bombardier C Series, experiencing an important boost and revival with the acquisition by Airbus of a majority stake in the programme and becoming the A220. Mario Pierobon reports

Having received all required regulatory approvals, Airbus, Bombardier and Investissement Québec agreed to close the C Series transaction earlier in 2018, which became effective on 1 July 2018. The transaction by which Airbus acquired a majority stake in the C Series Aircraft Limited Partnership (CSALP) had been initially announced in October 2017. The partnership, which was originally established between Bombardier and IQ, will benefit from Airbus’ global reach, scale, procurement organisation and expertise in selling, marketing and production. As a result, the C Series CS100 and CS300 have been rebranded and are referred to throughout this article as the A220-200 and A220-300.

In 2017, 17 A220 aircraft were delivered, which should be doubled this year. During the past year, Korean Air became the third operator of the type following earlier deliveries to launch customer SWISS and to airBaltic. In May 2018, airBaltic, the first operator of the A220-300 back in December 2016, announced a firm purchase agreement for the sale and purchase of 30 Airbus A220-300 aircraft with options for an additional 30 aircraft of the same type. The order complements the existing order of 20 A220-300 aircraft and forms the backbone of the new airBaltic’s business plan Destination 2025. The first Airbus deal came at Farnborough, with the signing of an MoU for 60 A220-300 aircraft for a new US start-up airline backed by a group of experienced investors led by David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue, investor in TAP in „ Portugal and controlling shareholder in Azul Linhas Aéreas in Brazil.

Maintenance support strategy

In light of the involvement of Airbus in the programme, the maintenance support strategy for the A220 aircraft is developing so that it can rely on Airbus’ extensive global network. Additionally, the experience of A220 operators is that the transition to Airbus’ leadership of the programme is being a very smooth one. “With the Airbus involvement in the programme, we are glad to have another very strong partner by our side. As the owner of the controlling stake in the programme, Airbus, with its vast experience and resources, clearly has a central role in further enhancing the maintenance support strategy,” says airBaltic.
“We have always enjoyed excellent support from CSALP/Bombardier on the C Series and that is in equal measure also true for the Airbus support on our A320, A330 and A340 fleets. There was no interruption or degradation at all of the support given during the transition of the C Series to Airbus,” says SWISS.
“Bombardier has already dispatched experienced line maintenance technicians to support line maintenance at Korean Air. The cooperation of technicians and engineers from the two parties has promoted the technical understanding of the C Series and improved overall maintenance efficiency. Therefore, for now, there has been no dramatic change in maintenance support after the rebranding to A220-300 from CS300. We expect that Airbus would gradually support us with an improved maintenance programme based on professional experience and a bigger support infrastructure,” says Korean Air.
Indeed, Airbus is building on the maintenance know-how, which existed prior to the C Series acquisition, and is currently reviewing the extension of the Airbus portfolio of services to the A220. “This includes, in particular, the spare parts worldwide distribution leveraging the extensive Airbus network. Integration work is ongoing,” says Airbus. >>


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