August 2012

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Odyssey looks to take CSeries head-to-head against A318 (Update1)

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The reported existence of a customer for the Paris Air Show mystery order for 10 CS100ER aircraft is now pinned to Odyssey Airlines, a possible new trans-atlantic start-up out of London City Airport. Though one question in particular keeps coming up: Can Bombardier's 125-seat aircraft fly the mission in an all-premium configuration?

Narrowbody aircraft not designed with the over-water mission in mind, infrequently find themselves in a niche role crossing the pond. Most notably, the Airbus A318, with its extra long fin has been flying the Atlantic for British Airways from London City in the heart of the financial district since October 2008 with a great deal of success. This is where Odyssey finds its chief competition.

With its steep approach capability and just 32 B/E Aerospace Minipod business class seats in the cabin, the aircraft is able to arrive and depart the 4,984ft runway at London City. Because of the easterly winds and the weight of the aircraft's restricted take-off roll, BA001 makes a fuel stop in Shannon on its westbound hop while passengers are pre-cleared through US Customs. 

British Airways was seriously considering expanding to additional cities on the east coast including Boston and Washington, DC, but that expansion has not yet materialized. As it looks to the future, the double shrunken A318, will not be re-engined with CFM International Leap-1A and Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-JM like its larger siblings and won't benefit from the decrease in fuel burn. However, the A318 will eventually be fitted with sharklets.

To try and answer the question of the A318's probable performance against the CSeries, PianoX, an independent aircraft performance analysis tool was employed to calculate payload capability, emissions and fuel burn over a given segment. 

Here it has been used to compare 32-seat configurations aboard the Airbus A318 against available data on the Bombardier CSeries CS100ER between LCY and JFK. Dimitri Simos, who built PianoX, put together the following analysis comparing the two aircraft across the Atlantic. 

An initial analysis was originally conducted in late 2009 and updated this month. The complete analysis is included below the fold, but can also be found here (PDF).


The analysis yield some interesting findings, including a approximately 800ft advantage in field takeoff length (TOFL) and a 22.5% advantage in per seat fuel burn for the CS100ER. Can the CS100ER perform the mission? The answer appears to be yes.

If the carrier materializes, as Odyssey looks to take on British Airways at London City, it will be armed with a significant fuel burn advantage. Though history is littered with failed all-premium trans-atlantic airlines; Maxjet (767), EOS (757), L'Avion (757) and Silverjet (767) to name four.

In 2009, former Bombardier president of commercial aircraft Gary Scott said that the company sees a "very lucrative" niche market for longer-range all-premium configuration and it appears that this is beginning to take shape as Odyssey aims to buck the trend of its predecessors and pin its fate to the edge of the CS100's operating envelope.


While its initial competitive landscape is the two British Airways aircraft on the route across the pond, Odyssey is up against all of the oneworld alliance and its feeder traffic into and out of London and New York. Those carriers also have the benefit of trans-Atlantic anti-trust immunity, enabling fierce pricing and schedule tactics against the newcomer. 

For Bombardier, the potential operations out of London City are an outlier for the CS100 and CS300's typical 125 to 149-seat airline operations when viewed in light of the estimated 6,700 aircraft market segment for the type. Odyssey will seek to highlight the aircraft's performance with its specific business model, though its type of operations will likely not anchor the commercial program.

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