When it comes to commercial airplanes, Airbus and Boeing are the two big players, while Brazil's Embraer S.A. and Canada's Bombardier Aerospace fight it out for the title of the world's third largest airplane manufacturer. Bombardier is getting a head start on its rival with the first of its new CS100 aircraft handed over to Swiss International Airlines and due to enter service later this week.
Bombardier may not be a household name, but most US frequent fliers have probably ridden in one of its planes. Having acquired Canadair in 1986, the company manufactures Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ) models for Delta and American Airlines, as well as international carriers like Garuda, China Express Airlines and Rwandair.
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Even though it's still a single-aisle aircraft, the CS100 is a bigger, more sophisticated proposition than those little CRJs. It is the first aircraft in Bombardier's C-Series family of narrow-body, twin-engine, medium-range jet airliners and is intended as a direct competitor to the Embraer E195-E2, which isn't due to enter service until 2019.
Designed to hold between 100 and 150 passengers (the Embraer E195-E2 will carry up to 144), Bombardier is at pains to point out the extra-wide seats, big windows and capacious overhead bins of the CS100.
When it says wider seats, the company's not talking about a minuscule improvement either. While the Boeing 737 has 17.3-in (43.9-cm) seats, the Airbus A319's pews are 18.0-in (45.7 cm) wide, and the Embraer E195-E2's seats will be 18.3 in (46.5cm) wide, the CS100 has 19.0-in (48.3-cm) seats.
Powered by Pratt & Whitney PurePower PW1500G engines, Bombardier is claiming a maximum range of 3,300 nautical miles (6,112 km/3,798 mi) for the aircraft. The engines, when combined with the plane's shape, should make for efficient, low emissions flying and a quiet ride for passengers. That combination, according to the company, should open the door for carriers to run routes previously considered too expensive.
Swiss International Airlines (SWISS) will be the first airline to take delivery of the C-Series planes, and service of the first CS100 is set to begin on July 15 with a flight from Zurich to Paris-Charles de Gaulle. It will also be used on routes to Warsaw, Brussels, Nice, Stuttgart, Hanover, Milan, Florence and Bucharest.