Photo: Alexandre Gouger
Bombardier offered United Airlines a less-dense configuration of its CS100 in a 2015 campaign, not a shortened variant of the 100-seat aircraft.
“It’s a seating configuration, it’s not physically a smaller airplane,” says Fred Cromer, president of Bombardier Commercial Aircraft, in an interview in FlightGlobal’s Washington DC office.
His comments came in response to questions over the “CS100 light” that Ross Mitchell, vice-president of commercial operations at Bombardier, said the airframer offered United during an 18 May hearing at the US International Trade Commission.
Cromer says Mitchell’s statement is being “confused” as meaning a smaller aircraft rather than just a seating configuration.
The CS100 seats 108 passengers in a two-class configuration, Bombardier’s specifications show. It can seat up to 125 passengers in a high-density single-class configuration. “Airlines can put 90 seats in the CS100 or they can put up to” the exit limitation of the aircraft, says Cromer.
United told Bombardier that the CS100 was “too big” for its needs, Mitchell said at the hearing. He added that it was competing with the Embraer 190.
American Airlines, the only US mainline carrier operating the E190, configures the aircraft with 99 seats in a dual-class configuration. Air Canada puts 97 seats on the aircraft.
“United was very disciplined in what they wanted and we came to the table with an offer that we thought met their requirements,” says Cromer on the campaign, which ultimately went to Boeing for 65 end-of-line 737-700s in early 2016.
Chicago-based United declines to comment. In November 2016, the carrier converted and deferred the 737s, shifting four to the -800 and the remaining 61 to the Max.
Scott Kirby, president of United who joined the airline last August, said in January that the economics of a 100-seat aircraft “just don’t work” for its mainline fleet.
The US Trade Commission hearing is part of an investigation after a petition by Boeing claiming financial harm as a result of Bombardier’s low sale prices of the CS100. The petition is the result of an order for 75 CS100s by Delta Air Lines in 2016.