First Bombardier sold off the CSeries (now A220) to Airbus. Then the Q400 turboprop business was sold to Viking Air. Today the company announced further restructuring, with plans to consolidate remaining operations in the Americas while divesting its aerostructures businesses in Belfast and Morocco. The new Bombardier Aviation unit will continue to deliver aircraft across four brands, mostly focused on the business aviation segment. The new group will be led by David Coleal, currently President of the Business Aviation group at Bombardier.
It is the right next step in our transformation. The consolidation will simplify and better focus our organization on our leading brands, Global, Challenger, Learjet and the CRJ. It will also allow us to better support our customers and generate value for shareholders.
With our clear vision for the future of Bombardier Aviation, we will focus our aerostructures activities around our core capabilities in Montréal, Mexico and our newly acquired Global 7500 wing operations in Texas. Collectively, these facilities provide Bombardier with all the skills, technologies and capabilities to design, produce and service the current and next generation of aircraft.– Alain Bellemare, President and Chief Executive Officer, Bombardier Inc.
The Belfast facility produces wings for the A220 and recently indicated it would expand, focusing on the growing backlog of orders for the type. But the division also could see the writing on the wall with the Airbus/CSeries deal. It has pushed hard in recent months to add work for outside parties beyond just the A220 wings with its advanced composites design and assembly capabilities. Undoubtedly Airbus should be seen as a potential buyer but that’s far from a sure thing.
Future of the CRJ?
As the other commercial aircraft businesses transfer out of Bombardier’s portfolio it is reasonable to question the future of the CRJ family. It appears stable, though new orders have slowed to a trickle. And, based on comments from CEO Alain Bellemare during the earnings call, that seems unlikely to change. Belemare noted that the group is “divesting out of commercial” with plans to “focus on business aircraft moving forward.” Exactly how and when those changes further manifest remain to be seen.
The most significant announcement in the past year has been the introduction of a new type for the family, the CRJ550 to be launched with United Airlines. But that deal covers the conversion of existing aircraft to a new interior layout, not the delivery of new frames.
Nine new CRJ900 orders were added in the most recent quarter for Air Canada Jazz. These will feature the new Atmosphere cabin design, an update that Bombardier hopes will improve the sales potential for the type. In the meantime, however, expectations for new deliveries are being trimmed as the backlog shrinks and profitability of the program evaporates.
The CRJ program faces stiff competition from Embraer and the updated E2 family of regional jets. Smaller programs such as the ARJ21 also compete while Mitsubishi’s MRJ is back in certification mode after a brief hiatus.