CSeries Orders Buoy Bombardier

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It's been a good week for Bombardier's CSeries program with a few new orders and a more positive outlook for the potentially game-changing design. An unnamed airline took three 110-seat versions of the ultra-efficient single-aisle aircraft and options for three more. The $350 million deal, if the options are exercised, is small in airline terms but it comes on the eve of the Paris Air Show and some pundits are suggesting this sale and last week's 10-plane order from Sweden's Braathens are teasers before a blockbuster announcement at the big show. Regardless, the orders are the first in 15 months for the CSeries and Bombardier's arch rival in just about everything, Embraer, is watching from the sidelines as it assesses the market potential for single-aisle jets in an increasingly crowded field.

Actually, Embraer says it's really only interested in what Boeing will do before it decides whether to enter the fray. Embraer, which already produces regional airliners in the 50-100-seat range, is considering a 150-seat aircraft that would put it in direct competition with whatever the 737 will become and Airbus's refreshed and re-engined A320. That's not to mention China and Russia's entries to the market. However, it's Boeing's plans that have Embraer on the fence and the company says it won't decide what it will do until Boeing decides whether to upgrade the 737 or build a single-aisle version of the 787. "We plan to wait to see what Boeing decides," Paulo Cesar de Souza e Silva, president of Embraer's commercial aviation unit, told Bloomberg. "We believe it's important to have every piece of information about our competitors for us to make a sound decision." If they build it, Embraer intends to make it even more efficient than the offerings now being built or proposed. An open rotor engine is a possibility.