I was lucky last week to have flown the Bombardier C Series 300. The aircraft that the industry just doesn’t know what to do with. It is definitely a game changer but is not being picked up as such. The total order book is around 250 machines with 45 being destines for Air Canada.
Update: airBaltic has since ordered a firm 30 with an option of 30 more
Air Canada obviously has a national interest in supporting the program just like Air France and other European “Flag Carriers” supported Airbus in its Heyday.
The aircraft is being marketed as a lower end Narrow-body or an Upper End Regional Jet. The operators of the air-frame are comparing it favorably to the niche in which it is entering. The B737 Max 7 or the A319NEO have a bit of competition by this nifty little player in the market.
Just like the A319 operated the Delhi – Amman route for Royal Jordanian and the Doha – Helsinki route for Qatar Airways, Riga – Abu Dhabi was announced by airBaltic. All these ventures were soon discontinued as unseasonable winds or increase in demand soon proves expensive.
Abu Dhabi was also a hot temperature destination and I doubt the aircraft could have managed the summers of Abu Dhabi with any profitable loads.
airBaltic will operate the Riga – Abu Dhabi route 4 times weekly with a long-range Bombardier CS300 aircraft.
-air Baltic Press Release, 24.02.2017
This press release seems to have many people wonder whether there was more than one class of CS300s and whether a smaller operator like airBaltic can afford to operate variants withing the CS300 family.
I sent an email to the good people at airBaltic and If I get a reply, I will post it here.
I took the airplane from Riga to Paris – CDG. The aircraft’s entrance seemed to be quite spacious when compared to their B737s (B737-300 and B737-500) and to the Embraer family currently flying. However, it doesn’t make the Airbus narrowbody look bad.
The aircraft is famously configured into 2-3 rows, which is the first time I see that applied. The seats were rather spacious in seat pitch at 32″, but the much purported width was nowhere to be seen. It felt like maybe a centimeter of extra space, but the aisle was noticeably larger. The ride was typical of modern-liners and nothing to write home about, though the seat cushion felt like it was selected based on lowest price.
The windows were a bit larger and it helped make the aircraft look roomy, especially on ground, but the illusion of space created by the cavity surrounding the window is probably what created it.
The real difference was in overhead, the luggage space was more than sufficient and roomy enough to be in the lead of the industry
I talked to a pilot who flies the CS300 and is an examiner on the machine, he admits the machine is good mix between the two worlds of Airbus and Boeing. He was shy to state that the French-Canadians who created the machine didn’t create a “philosophy” like the real French did. The aircraft is not revolutionary or cutting-edge, it is a compromise. Something pilots enjoy, as it promises to be the best of both worlds.
The Airplane flies with a side-stick and not a yoke but has less protections than an Airbus, or so he said. It is rather simplified in that it has two “laws”: “Direct” and “Normal” which keeps training and flying simple. However, he admits the Rockwell Collins avionics and the advancements in displays and electronics are what makes it more advanced than a Boeing and less nuisance to fly than an Airbus.
“The protections and stick are Airbus, the Laws and Throttles are Boeing, the radio box is on the glare shield where it should be, like the Bombardier BizJets.” The senior Captain explained and that makes it simple to understand, “the high speed protection, doesn’t raise the nose, it deploys the speed brakes! Like a pilot would!” he added excitedly. Everyone likes beating the French!
The little addition I enjoyed was the small screens in the overhead, they must have been 5″ or so, but they are definitely mission appropriate, as they overcome the demonstration challenge all the airlines face when choosing to bypass the in-seat IFE.
Cabin Crew were free to do other things.
On take-off, as the pilots set the power, I could feel the pressure surge that should have died with the 737 NG, Airbus has that solved and it makes a difference to the passengers. Airbus pre-pressurizes the aircraft slowly before take-off.
Overall, I think the airline airBaltic are doing a good job maintaining the machine and saying they are getting good returns out of it. They are making the machine look good and not the other way round.