The Boeing Co. is turning 100 on July 15. Throughout the year, The Daily Herald is covering the people, airplanes and moments that define The Boeing Century. More about this series
Companies around the world are trying to elbow their way into the big commercial jetliner market, which is split between industry giants the Boeing Co. and Airbus Group. Some are newcomers, and others, such as Bombardier and Embraer, are well-established in the regional jet market. The newcomers all claim to offer more efficient aircraft.
Even those established companies face a big uphill fight to break into the market. They have to convince potential buyers — airlines and leasing companies — to take a chance on new airplanes that have less customer support behind them. They also have to make buyers comfortable about walking away from the relationships they have with Airbus and Boeing.
And the would-be competitors likely cannot slash the plane’s sticker price as much as the big boys might.
Bombardier CSeries: Back from the (almost) dead
Schedule delays and huge cost overruns have dogged development of Bombardier’s CSeries. The problems prompted a change in the Canadian company’s leadership and a potential $2 billion infusion from public coffers. In early 2016, Boeing reportedly dropped its 737-700 price by nearly 70 percent in a deal with United Airlines to fend off Bombardier’s offer. The program appeared headed for failure.
But Delta Airlines gave it new life when it ordered 75 CS100 aircraft, with options for 50 more. The order by a major airline effectively put a stamp of approval on the CSeries.
Both CSeries jets are slated to enter service later this year. The CS100 is slated to enter service on July 15 — Boeing’s centennial anniversary — with Swiss International Air Lines.
Embraer E-Jets E2: Planes from Brazil
Brazilian planemaker Embraer is edging into the single-aisle market with its E-Jet E2 family, a significant overhaul of its existing E-Jets. The biggest one, the E-195 E2, seats 120 in a typical, two-class layout. That is about the size of Boeing’s 737-700 and the 737 MAX 7, which is in development.
Embraer has been cautious in its effort to break into the market. But its deliberate approach is working. It is the world’s third-biggest airplane maker, though third is still way behind Boeing and Airbus.
Comac C919: Late and out of date
The Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac) has delayed the first flight of its new C919 time and again. By the time the C919 enters service — projected for 2019 — it already will be outdated compared to the Boeing 737 MAX and Airbus A320neo. While it isn’t expected to draw foreign interest, it will win orders at home.
Fortunately for company leaders, Comac’s home, China, is projected to buy more jetliners in the next 20 years than any other market.
Comac C929: Believe it when you see it
In 2015, Comac and Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation said they plan to develop a twin-aisle jetliner to supplant the Boeing 777. China and Russia could become serious competitors one day, but both countries have big hurdles to overcome.
Technology is the easiest piece. Consider that both nations have put astronauts into space, but neither has developed a car that can compete in Western markets.