A review of the development of Bombardier CS-100 Airliner


On July 15, 2016, Swiss Global Air Lines flew the first commercial flight of the Bombardier CS100. The program had many issues with schedule delays and financing issues. In this report, we’ll study the project that was undertaken to build the Bombardier CS100.

In this sheet, we review the key points related to this challenging and significant project, especially in the context of Canadian manufacturing.

Photo:  Bombardier CS-100

Photo: Bombardier CS-100

Industry Context

There were a few key factors effecting the airline industry in the 2000’s:

  • Increasing competition at same performance/efficiency levels: Embraer, Boeing and Airbus are all offering similar types of aircrafts with similar efficiencies and performances.

  • Increasing fuel-prices: Through the 2000’s fuel prices continue to rise.

Business Case

There were multiple points:

  • Product differentiation: A 110 to 140 passenger aircraft with better fuel efficiency would provide:

    • More profits for the Airlines.

    • Longer range.

  • Company strategy: Through 1980’s and 1990’s Bombardier Inc. had got into the Aerospace industry through acquisitions. Due to success with the CRJ series of aircrafts and the Q Series (Dash 8), move into the business of building a bigger aircraft was a natural progression.


Key Requirements:

  • Strategic Requirement: Exploit a gap in the market - For years, manufacturers had sensed a gap in the market for a 100- to 150-seat transcontinental jet that could be used on secondary routes (think: Portland, Ore., to Charlotte, N.C.). Airlines were stuck relying on old, out-of-production McDonnell Douglas DC-9s and MD-90s, or downsized versions of the too-large Boeing 737 and Airbus A320.

  • Performance Requirement: Aircraft should be 15% more efficient to operate than any existing competition.

Scope Breakdown:

  • Product: Aircraft

  • Dependencies:

    • Manufacturing Plant

    • Road Infrastructure


  • Baseline: US$2.1 billion

  • Variance: US$3.3 billion (or more)


  • Baseline: 72 months

  • Variance: 36 months (approx.)


Initially resource commitments were on and off. After 2007, the program became a top priority. However, the company was working in parallel on three different aircraft development projects. That was a huge strain on resources and finances.


  • Andreas Thurnheer (Head of Swiss Global Air Lines Ltd.) – Key Client/User

  • Pierre Beaudoin (CEO, Bombardier) – Sponsor

  • Guy Hachey (President & CEO, Bombardier Aerospace) – Sponsor

  • Gary Scott (President, Commercial Aircraft, Bombardier, 2004 - 2011) – Program Manager

  • Fred Cromer (President, Commercial Aircraft, Bombardier, 2011 – Till date) – Program Manager


As Bombardier embarked on building the CS-100, there must have been many risks which were clearly visible:

  • David vs. Two Goliaths: This must have been the elephant in the room... let me rephrase - the "whale" in the room, or whatever that is super gigantic and big and obvious. Boeing and Airbus had literally divided up the Airliner manufacturing business amongst themselves. They were running a duo-poly in the mid to large scale aircraft segment. Who goes to take a bite when two T-Rexes are fighting for their share of the meat?


The aircraft needed to pass several standard tests:

  • High-speed taxi testing

  • Bad weather test

  • Emergency stop on runway test – wheels on fire

  • Dive down test

  • Tail-scraping test

  • Evacuation test (within 90 seconds)

  • Flight testing

  • Steep Approach Landing Testing


Below are the key issues encountered:

  • Engine Issues

    • Pratt & Whitney PW1000G supply and start issues


  • Pratt & Whitney – Engine

  • Ghafari Associates – Manufacturing site

  • Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion – Avionics

  • Alenia Aeronautica - Composite horizontal and vertical stabilizers

  • Fokker Elmo - Wiring and interconnection systems

  • Goodrich Corporation Actuation Systems - Flap and slat actuation systems.

  • Shenyang Aircraft Corporation - Centre fuselage

  • Zodiac Aerospace - Interiors

  • Parker Hannifin - Flight control, fuel and hydraulics systems

  • Liebherr Aerospace - Air management system

  • United Technologies Corporation - Air data system, flap and slat actuation systems, and engine nacelles

  • Panasonic Avionics Corporation - Cabin Management System


  • 2004 (8 March) – Feasibility study started

    • TEAM: Started with hiring Gary Scott from Boeing – 1 member team

  • 2005 (May) – Development evaluated at US$2.1 billion

    • TEAM: Team size grew to 600

  • 2006 (31 January) – EVENT: Project put on hold due to Market Conditions

    • TEAM: Team reduced to 50. Resources redirected to other projects.

  • 2007 (31 January) – EVENT: Project restarted (REVIEW – here or 2008 July)

    • Launch date set for 2013

  • 2008 (13 July) – Lufthansa order – 60 units for $46.7 million/unit

    • Vendor assignments

  • 2009

    • (March) – Vendor assignments

    • (November) – Program estimated at $3.5 billion

    • SCHEDULE – First flight scheduled for May, 2010

    • Ghafari Associates was retained to develop Montreal manufacturing site

  • 2012

    • (February) – SCHEDULE: Delivery scheduled for 2013

    • (November) – SCHEDULE: Delay of 6 months declared

  • 2013

    • (7th March) – First Press Display

    • (16th September) – First flight

  • 2014 (29 May) – Uncontained engine failure during testing

  • 2016 (15 July) – First commercial flight (Zurich and Paris)