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Airbus A220

Airbus A220, Bombardier CS300 Swiss, livery by Romandy Fichtre

The first Airbus A220-300 (ex CS300) of Swiss International Air Lines in a special livery. (Photo: Swiss)

Airbus A220 (ex Bombardier CSeries)

The Airbus A220, formerly named 'Bombardier CSeries', is a new twin-engine regional jet airliner developed by the Canadian aircraft manufacturer Bombardier Aerospace. It competes with the larger versions of the Embraer E-jets and the smallest members of the Boeing 737 MAX Family. Since the formal takeover by Airbus of the CSeries project, it complements the Airbus product range.

In the mid-1990s Bombardier considered taking over the ailing Dutch aircraft manufacturer Fokker, builder of the Fokker 100 regional jet, but this didn't result in a deal. Later, Bombardier started the BRJX design study (=Bombardier Regional Jet eXpansion) for an 80-120-seater with two engines under the wing. Bombardier decided, however, to drop the BRJX and build stretched versions of the CRJ instead, the CRJ700 and the CRJ900.

In July 2004, Bombardier announced the development of the CSeries airliner family. The family members would be larger than the longest CRJ-versions and carry 110 to 130 passengers. Bombardier expected the first deliveries in 2013.

Bombardier CS100 and CS300 In March 2005, Bombardier announced two versions: the C110 with 100–125 seats and the C130 with 120–145 seats. Later these models were redesignated 'CS100' and 'CS300'. The new aircraft was to be fitted with new fuel-efficient and quiet engines and would incorporate a large amount of composite materials in its airframe. The fuselage would allow five-abreast (2+3) seating in economy class and four-abreast seating (2+2) in first and business class. Early in 2006, however, Bombardier cancelled the programme because of lack of airline interest. Instead, it launched an even further stretch of the CRJ, the 100-seat CRJ-1000. A small team continued working on the CSeries, however.

Geared Turbo Fan

Market forecasts seemed to improve when engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney presented its Geared Turbofan (GTF) with a gearing system to adjust the rotation speed of the fan to give it the optimal speed during the different stages of a flight to save fuel. In November 2007 Bombardier selected the GTF (now named 'PurePower PW1000G') as the sole power-plant for the CSeries and on 13 July 2008 officially launched the project again. At the same time, it announced a formal intention of Lufthansa to buy 30 aircraft with options on a further 30.

Bombardier originally planned the first flight of the CS100 in the second half of 2012, with first deliveries in 2013. Deliveries of the stretched CS300 were to begin in 2014. The project suffered major delays, however. The first flight of the CS100 took place on 16 September 2013 and it took almost three years until Bombardier could hand over the first production aircraft to Swiss. This happened on 29 June 2016. Swiss made the first commercial flight on 14 July 2016. The first flight of the CS300 was on 27 February 2015. AirBaltic was the first airline to receive the stretched version on 28 November 2016. The first commercial flight was on 14 December 2016, from Riga to Amsterdam.

Bombardier CS100 Swiss The delays had several causes. There were production problems with suppliers, system integration took more time than expected and there were problems with the engines. A major setback during the test programme was an uncontained engine failure on one of the test aircraft on 29 May 2014. Flight tests were suspended until the problem, a fault in the lubrication system, was solved. Bombardier resumed flight testing in September 2014. Later, Pratt & Whitney suffered delays with the production of the GTF engines, so that Bombardier couldn't deliver planes to its customers. Delays harmed the financial situation of the Canadian aircraft manufacturer. It had to reduce its workforce and changed the management of the CSeries project. It also received financial support from the governments of Québec and Canada. In the meantime Bombardier was widely criticised because sales of the CSeries were rather slow. In 2015 it tried to form a partnership with Airbus, but at that time the European aircraft manufacturer refused.

A positive sign for Bombardier was that during the test programme, the aircraft appeared to perform better than its performance guarantees. It was quieter and less fuel-thirsty than expected. The lower fuel consumption could be translated in extra range.

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The next major crisis for the CSeries programme were import duties of 300 per cent imposed by the U.S. government aircraft to be delivered to U.S. airlines. The reason for this were complaints by Boeing that Bombardier had dumped its prices to acquire a large CSeries order for 75 CS100s from the U.S. major airline Delta Air Lines. Once again Bombardier started negotiations with Airbus. This time the Europeans were more willing to take a stake in the project. In October 2017, Airbus and Bombardier announced a partnership. Airbus would acquire a 50.01 per cent majority stake in the CSeries programme. Bombardier would keep 31 per cent and Investissement Québec 19 per cent.

One idea was to avoid the import duties by setting up a second production line for U.S. customers of the CSeries in Mobile, Alabama, where Airbus already had a production facility for A320 Family airliners. The programme's head office and primary assembly line would stay in Mirabel, Québec. After receiving regulatory approvals, the starting date of the partnership was set on 1 July 2018. After the takeover the CSeries was rebranded 'A220': the CS100 was renamed 'A220-100' and the CS300 'A220-300'.

CSeries cockpit In spite of all the problems, the CSeries appears to be an impressive aircraft. The airframe contains 70 per cent advanced materials like composites (46 per cent) and aluminium-lithium (24 per cent) which help to keep the weight of the airframe low and give a significant reduction in maintenance costs. Bombardier claims a 20 per cent lower fuel burn compared with current airliners in the same market segment. The CSeries is also very quiet, according to Bombardier even less noisy than turboprop aircraft.

The cabin has larger windows than comparable airliners and features large rotating overhead storage bins, larger than in any current in-service narrowbody airliner. The seats are almost four centimetres (one-and-an-half inch) wider than those of the competition. The middle seats in economy class are a little wider than the neighbouring seats, for extra comfort at this among passengers less popular position.


Bombardier has been pondering the launch of a further stretched version as ‘CS500’, which could become a competitor for the Boeing 737 MAX 8 and the Airbus A320neo. The market for aircraft in this size category is much bigger than for the smaller CS100 and CS300. In the Wall Street Journal, president of Bombardier’s commercial aircraft division Fred Cromer said that a CS500 could be developed without high costs if it uses the same wing as the CS300. Bombardier has safeguarded the trademark names 'CS500' and even 'CS900' already in 2010. It is not known yet what Airbus thinks about this now it is the leading partner in the CSeries project.

Until summer 2018 around 500 A220 aircraft have been ordered, including 115 of the smaller A220-100 version.

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A220-100 (ex CS100) Specifications

Bombardier CSeries CS100 prototype, first flight Wingspan: 35.1 m (115 ft 1 in). Length: 35.0 m (114 ft 9 in). Height: 11.5 m (37 ft 8 in).
Max. take-off weight: 58,513 kg (129,000 lb).
Accommodation: 108-125 passengers. Range: 6,112 km (3,300 nm). Cruise speed: 829 km/h (447 kts).
Engines: two Pratt & Whitney PW1500G turbofans (84.1-103.6 kN - 18.900-23,300 lb).
(Photo: Bombardier)

A220-300 (ex CS300) Specifications

Bombardier CS300 during its first flight Wingspan: 35.1 m (115 ft 1 in). Length: 38.7 m (127 ft 0 in). Height: 11.5 m (37 ft 8 in).
Max. take-off weight: 65,317 kg (144,000 lb).
Accommodation: 130-160 passengers. Range: 6,621 km (3,575 nm). Cruise speed: 829 km/h (447 kts).
Engines: two Pratt & Whitney PW1500G turbofans (93.4-103.6 kN - 21,000-23.300 lb).
(Photo: Bombardier)

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