Well, the news out of Bombardier Commercial Aircraft just got worst with the announcement that, Mr. Guy Hackey, CEO/President of Bombardier Aerospace since 2008 will “retire” due to organizational changes, that may see up 1,800 employees laid off on top of the 1,700 laid off in January, the bad situation with the CSeries is terms of poor sales and slow certification is finally waking up and shaking up corporate HQ into action.
Bombardier CSeries CS-100 a wonderful aircraft, but it is not selling well-yet. The best aircraft do not always end up being the best seller unfortunately. It is about sales and marketing and Bombardier has NOT done a good job at it, and now after only 13 months after launching its E2 line, Embraer has 278 firm orders while Bombardier has only 203 firm orders for its CSeries after 61 months from launch when old faithful Bombardier launch customer Lufthansa ordered 30 CS300’s. Till now Bombardier has been doing the same old thing over and over, expecting different results, now it needs to change and shake things up fast, or the CSeries may face the fate of the VFW-614, Dassault Mercure 100 or the BAe ATP ? (for the newbies you will have to Google those programs), the CSeries won’t be that bad, but it could severely under perform in sales, which will force more price discounting which will push the break-even point many years out, if ever.
It is no surprise, given the company is trying to develop and certify 4 aircraft are once (CSeries, Lear 85, Global 7000, Global 8000) ! which is crazy, the R&D / CAPEX (capital expenditures) and human resources needed are huge, it is a massive undertaking that I don’t think any aerospace manufacturer has ever attempted such a bold and risky set of projects all at once, and with Q400 and CRJ sales low, CSeries and Lear 85 delays and slow sales, and the tough situation is now compounded, add in the growing political tensions with Russia and the real possibility that the Q400 will not be built in Russia, and you have a crisis on your hands in Montreal.
IF they do not get the CSeries where it should be sales wise, then a merger/acquisition by China’s AVIC/Comac is a real possibility, the Chinese need to catch up in so many areas to be competitive with Boeing and Airbus, best way is to buy the know how and expertise and they cannot buy Airbus, Boeing or Embraer, so Bombardier’s Commercial Aircraft Division is a real target for them.
Last weeks’ Farnborough Air Show was very disappointing with only 5 x Q400 orders booked and 44 x CSeries MOU’s/Options which was the lowest order intake at the show for any regional aircraft manufacturer (inc. Mitsubishi, Sukhoi and COMAC), meanwhile Mike Arcamone will stay on as President of the Commercial Aircraft Division, for now.
While Boeing and Airbus are experiencing a huge avalanche or aircraft orders as the global economy recovers from past stagnation, the orders, backlogs, production rates, airline profits are all going up through the roof while low interest rates remain constant, the aircraft manufacturing industry is having a ‘field day’ where all the stars are aligned and where the worry is now about too many orders, and too high production plans, while Bombardier Commercial Aircraft Division, is sadly struggling big time ? what has gone wrong ? where has this once mighty Division gone off the tracks ? it needs surgery now not band aid solutions, change is needed, sales & marketing is not working, PR/communication has been out right deceiving in regard to 1st flight and lots of bad information, brocken promises, and that is just not acceptable in this industry.
Its stock is now around $3.67, down 28% from 12 months ago, it does not need more bad news, with the $18m Lear 85 way behind certification schedule, and this largest Learjet with a composite fuselage launched in 2008 is another anchor on Bombardier and its future success against the likes of the $15m Cessna Latitude, $18.2m Cessna Sovereign and $15.8m Gulfstream G150 is questionable. This is sadly the only Bombardier business jet that I do not see a great future for.
No one talks much about the 2010 $3.06 billion order for 40 CS300’s by Republic Airways Holdings (RJET), but sadly everyone knows that deal is DEAD, but for obvious reasons not publicly, but for us airline observers it is obvious the airline is out of the airline business having sold LCC Frontier Airlines last year, and today its business is flying regional jets for Major airlines (UA, DL, AA) under Fixed Fee arrangements where you are basically paid by departure (more fixed fee, CPA’s, and pro rates in that in my July 10th article on US Regional airlines).
My last blog on the Farnborough Air Show and the June 10th article on the badly performing CSeries, pointed out that there is something very wrong with the CSeries program sales effort, for 5 years and 203 sales is horrible when you are putting up $4.4+ billion in the program. At Farnborough Air Show last week, Bombardier was shut out, NO new CSeries firm orders while Embraer clocked up 83 orders and 73 options for its E175/190/195 E2 line, which was launched June 2013 and in 13 months its total firm orders is 278 versus 203 for the CSeries since July 2008 (5 years), it had to be worrying all Bombardier executives, so it is time for changes on how the aircraft is being sold/marketed and managed.
The aircraft will be certified, and it will sell, but the worry is how many will be sold ? surely NOT the 6,900 Bombardier forecasts between now and 2032 (20 years) or 345 per year ? if that is what they are counting on then they better get their heads out of the cloud and come down to reality, after 61 months they have 515 commitments (203 firm orders), not even close.
They have to GET REAL, and at some point someone has to say “the emperor has NO clothes”, the market is not that big and take in Embraer, Sukhoi and for now you still have the very badly selling A319neo and B737Max7 which make sense for Boeing and Airbus operators, as there are BIG advantages to a common fleet. Sadly, it will NOT be the program they thought it was and for many at Bombardier it is hard to accept, so they live in denial till reality hits. Marketing myopia has settled in and people are not seeing reality in my opinion.
The Myopic culture, would pave the way for a business to fail, due to the short-sighted mindset and illusion that a firm is in a so-called ‘growth industry’. This belief leads to complacency and a loss of sight of what customers want. Its theme is that the vision of most organizations is too constricted by a narrow understanding of what business they are in and what is really happening in their business, the belief that they are doing everything perfect and their product is perfect.
The fact is the Q400 (499 orders/15 years) is struggling now against the ATR-72-600 which , the CRJ-700/900’s are for now holding their ground against the E170/175 in the US market rush to replace 50 seat regional jets with 76 seat regional jets (see previous article this month), but in 4 years time the Embraer E2’s will be out in the market and they will be powered by the same PW engines (PW1700G, PW 1900G) that the CSeries has (PW1500G) and the GE CF34 engines of the CRJ line will not be able to compete on fuel efficiency, and then the CRJ line is done. So Bombardier needs the CSeries, that is its future. Right now the CRJ700/900 are being improved through some engine fuel consumption improvements (+5%) but that is to keep them competitive for the influx of 76 seat RJ orders that is coming to replace hundreds of 50 seat RJ’s (see previous article on this issue).
Change not just at the top but all the way down to middle ranks but throughout the corporation, as there is a serious problem within the current organization and it will not go away with Mr. Guy Hacket, he is not the problem, something else is which few inside the company will openly admit but those who have left or know the company, know very well, but few speak out openly.
This had to change. they keep doing the same over and over and expect different results, and its not working, there is something fundamentally wrong at Bombardier in its sales and marketing efforts. I have talked to many former and current people at Bombardier, there is a corporate culture problem at Bombardier Aerospace. This is the beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company’s employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions it is implied, not expressly defined, and develops organically over time from the cumulative traits of the people the company hires.
By giving people bigger jobs and fancy titles with big salaries, does not make them better leaders IF they are not qualified for the position, Bombardier’s HR is well known outside of the company for not hiring the best qualified, they hire younger graduates over experienced engineers, airline analyst, and do not provide the talent acquisition the company really needs, and that needs to change.
At Bombardier, they have great pride it is a Quebec company, and is well known in inside circles to push francophones to high senior positions over anglophones, even when those promoted are not the best qualified or suited for the advancement. The owners want to show executive/managerial talent in Quebec is as good as anywhere in the world, which is good, but probably has contributed to Bombardier’s slide.
I know there are many out there that worked for Bombardier, that remember the term “Quebecois nepotism“, which was commonly used to describe the slow hand over of many top positions to people coming from Quebec to learn their jobs and then have the person that trained them laid off or fired, sadly a very common practice for a long time at Bombardier.
Bombardier moved very quickly into the aerospace industry, from the 1986 acquisition of Canadair followed quickly by more aerospace acquisitions, Shorts (1989), Learjet (1990) and de Havilland in 1992 and has done a great job with the CRJ line (CRJ-700/900/1000), from 50 seats to 100+ seats, Mr. Lear would be stunned to know his original CL-600 Challenger was stretched into a 100 seat regional airliner.
Its one of the reasons the CSeries certification is slow, its the first commercial airliner with a whole new Type Certificate, all the other models (DHC-8-300 and Q400) and (CRJ line) were stretched versions of the original Type Certificate DHC-8-100 and CL-600 Challenger, that kept development costs down, and now its a whole new ball game, certifying a whole new aircraft.
As a former de Havilland Airline Analyst, I left de Havilland on my own accord before Boeing sold the company, but stayed in touch and observed from Europe what was happening. Within a few years, slowly but surely many of the former de Havilland were fired or laid off as new people came in with little experience. A company is only as good as its employees, especially in this business where experienced aircraft sales and marketing people are short supply as the industry has boomed and these people are in high demand.
I know of many good Canadian aviation executives, who like me have spent many years overseas learning their craft and contributing a great deal to other OEM’s, sadly in Canada there is a job discrimination against ex-pats, yet they have like me a lot more experience, and know how working with several OEM’s/airlines around the world, than someone working for 1 OEM their whole career, the same applies to Canadian airline’s, which pass over ex-pats in the belief that everything here is best.
Yet for me, some of the worst airline and manufacturing operations I have witnessed, is here in Canada where in certain areas things are 20+ years out of date to international practices, but how would they know ? when the benchmark is an operator on the same field ? and the same people are recycled from one local company to another where nothing new comes out of them, from an outsider like me its a real sad state in Canada, and there are many ex-pats who feel exactly the same.
The global economy needs people with international experience, countries like the UK, Ireland, Australia and the US have lots of ex-pats around the world and values and welcomes them back to help local companies to compete better, but not here, inexperienced HR and Exec Recruiters want to see local company names, companies they recognize, countries they have heard of or can find on a map, they have little knowledge of the international market, are not providing value to their companies by not seriously looking at people that have unique backgrounds and skills gained overseas.
Every company needs to bring in new people with new ideas, here the same old people and ideas just get recycled from one department to the next or from one company to the other, where do you learn new things ? anyway we ex-pats prefer overseas assignments where our experience, know how and ability to think outside the box, IS welcomed and valued. Right now, without a doubt Embraer’s sales and marketing is far superior to Bombardier’s, look at the numbers of sales, customers and penetrated countries and Bombardier needs to face reality that it is being outsold by Embraer, that simple, live in denial, but its a fact, sales/marketing needs a revamping.
I recently had a chance to look at the Airline Analysis work from Bombardier that was prepared for a particular airline, as a former Airline Analyst it was horrible ! considering the work we did 25 years ago, its shameful and no wonder the CSseries struggles with sales. Bombardier recruits new Airline Analyst, but former analyst are not hired, and the quality of the work shows and the sales are what they are, to no surprise, save money on hiring good people and you pay for it in lost sales, simple. When you show up an at an airline with crap studies, you loose respect right away, you need to have people in front of airlines that can talk the talk, from knowing the industry, airline, its competitors, its strategy, inside out ! that is what impresses.
Forget the 20% lower fuel burn and 15% lower cash costs arguments ! it is gone, that was good when the program was announced, but today the PW1000G egine family is on the E2’s and the A319/320neo, the competitive advantage is gone, time for a new approach, because what ever approach has been used is and has NOT worked. With Airbus and Boeing discounting in some cases 50% their aircraft even during these wonderful days of massive orders, Bombardier will have to follow, especially for big well known accounts.
Look I do not know exactly what goes on at Bombardier today, but people talk, blogs about the company are every where and nothing is secret. The company by many accounts is poorly run, nepotism everywhere, moral low and obviously it is struggling, while the CSeries and A350 had their 1st flights almost back to back, the A350 is near certification, hundreds of hour flown, the CSeries is way way behind the A350, and I do not know but will certification be ready in 2015 ? more like 2016. So problems in certification and bigger problems in sales, who is in charge ? very sad indeed.
They got rid of Chet Fuller their chief salesman for the CSeries and replaced him with Raymond Jones, a VP of sales at Business Aircraft Division, yet sorry, I have sold Cessna Citations and Gulfstream business jets and commercial aircraft, and they are NOT the same, one is to the wealthy private buyers who need an airplane for business travel to save time, the airlines buy aircraft to make money with them, different skills, knowledge and approach is needed.
Commercial and Business jet customers have different needs/wants and criteria for selecting an aircraft, you don’t sell pleasure boats and super large oil tankers together for a reason, so come on get professional airline people to sell the CSeries, who can talk airline/aircraft economics, fleet plans, competition, airline strategy, etc. they need to know the customer’s needs and wants and then they can help them buy the “right” aircraft. Seems Embraer’s sales people are much better at this then Bombardier’s look at their total numbers BUT more importantly look at Embraer’s large number of customers on 6 continents, it puts Bombardier’s sales numbers and geographical market penetration to shame.
The 100-149 seat market is tough market, Bombardier forecast thinks 6,900 deliveries in 20 years (345 per year), between the Embraer E190’s/E190’s now and E190-E2’s/E195-E2’s by 2019 on one side and the future A319neo and B737Max7 on the other side will NOT make it easy for Bombardier sales aspirations, the wonderful PW1500G engine that was suppose to be a “GAME CHANGER” for Bombardier, is being used by Embraer and Airbus as well, and they did not have to invest in a new airframe for it, the old fuselages are good enough for the same fuel savings, so with the big competitive advantage gone is it check mate for Bombardier ?
When Embraer sells 278 E2’s in 13 months (ave. 21.4 per month) and Bombardier sells 203 in 61 months (ave. 3.3 per month), there is a problem, and yes its a new aircraft, but Bombardier has delivered 1,710+ CRJ’s and 1,129+ DHC-8’s so it is well known and respected in the aviation industry, and should have calmed any apprehensions the airlines and lessors have, but it has not convinced the Lessors that have many LOI’s to firm up, so 312 LOI’s/MOU’s are outstanding (61% of total commitments for the CSeries)-too high at this point, need to CLOSE the deals ! a good salesman knows how to close, but they need help from management.
Worrying for me beyond the slow sales and certification is 1. the fact there are too many outstanding LOI/MOU’s, they need to CLOSE the deal ! convert those half-ass LOI’s / MOU’s into firm orders ! 2. the lack of what I call Grade A customers (Lufthansa and Korean Air) that is it, then 2 start ups-always questionable, 1 US Major airline now only a US regional flying on CPA’s (capacity purchase agreement) that does not allow operation over 76 passenger seats, 2 near bankrupt national airlines (airbaltic and Gulf Air), 1 order from a failing state (Iraqi Airways) and the rest you can read in my article on the Farnborough Air Show published this week.
Look I am not against Bombardier, I want them to succeed by I have seen little to be impressed, PR has been bad, communication has been bad and the Airline Analysis, marketing and sales material I have seen is as I have said, shameful, and thus people are questioning the CSeries and the future of the Commercial Aircraft Division. I am NOT the only one to raise concerns.
Even, well known Analyst Richard Aboulafia has said the following this week about the CSeries “Something’s wrong with the commercial competitiveness of this company,” said Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst with Fairfax, Virginia-based Teal Group. “They need to cut costs to fix that. Whether it will be successful I don’t know. Because of the CSeries, there’s not a lot of margin for error.”
The VFW-614 from West Germany, an interesting 380+ kts, 44 seat regional jet ahead of its time in 1975, only 10 were built and operated by Cimber Air (Denmark), Air Alsace (France) and Air Touraine Transport-TAT (France). The Dutch learned that the market was not there for a for 44-50 seat regional airliner, a few years later Fokker proved the market was there for a 65-85 seat airliner with its Fokker F28-1000/4000 Fellowship (241 built) and later built 283 x F-100’s and 48 x F-70’s , a perfect example of the consequences of NOT knowing your market, today OEM’s can learn a great deal from past mistakes in aviation history so the same mistakes are not repeated. Sadly, the new generation knows not what a F-28, BAC 1-11, or a HS 121 Trident looks, so they can’t help you with aviation history. Note the engine configuration on the VFW 614,engine on wing pylons, just like the new HA-420 HondaJet business jet, guess where they got the idea ? I had the pleasure of working with many engineers in Germany who worked on the VFW-614 during its development and I saw the aircraft at work with DLR in Braunschweig as a test aircraft until its retirement in December 2012. Good airplane, but the market was not there ? that is why marketing needs to drive future aircraft development, not engineers, saw how that worked at Dornier, always too late to the market (from Do228, D0328 to Do328Jet), though the Fairchild Dornier 728 was a real “game changer” in 2001.
Sorry, I will divert for a second to the Fairchild Dornier 728 regional airliner.
The beautiful 80 seat Fairchild Dornier 728 in 2002, oh Germans can sure design and build beauties, just did not learn to sell them ! it was the beginning of a planned family of regional airliners, the 63 seat Fairchild Dornier 528 and the much bigger 110 seat Fairchild Dornier 928. Mr. Carl Albert , who had bought Fairchild out of bankruptcy in 1990 and tried to buy Czech aircraft manufacturer LET with its 19 passenger L-410 and 40 seat L-610, but the effort collapsed.
Then Albert turned Fairchild into the third largest regional jet manufacturer by 2000 through his 80% acquisition of Dornier in 1996 from Daimler Benz Aerospace, later sold 96% of stake in Fairchild for $1.2 billion (Albert + 25 partners) to buyout firm Clayton, Dublier & Rice and German insurer Allianz and they failed with it, blaming Sept 11 terrorist attack for a collapsed $870 million in refinancing which would have included $345 million from German Government, last ditch effort to sell it to Bombardier and Boeing and later in 2004 to China’s D’Long International Strategic Investments Group from Xinjiang, sadly all efforts failed.
The 728 would have been a ‘game changer’ for sure, by 2001 it got an order from GECAS for 50 plus 100 options and by March 2002, it had 125 orders and 164 opions from the likes of Lufthansa Cityline, GECAS, CSA Czech Airlines, Sol Air, Atlantic Coast Airlines and Bavaria Leasing, it would have changed the face of the regional aircraft market, lucky for Bombardier and Embraer.
Now where was I ? oh ya, come on Bombardier get your act together, you have done so well for 28 years (bought Canadair in 1986) and now you must change your corporate culture to be more accountable, quicker to make decisions, streamlined, less bureaucratic and use the best talent you have or can find, no matter what their 1st language is and where they came from, or where they worked the past decade or so, then you will see things improve for the better, you are a global company, you need people with global experience.
The CSeries will be certified and will sell, the question is will it sell 60 aircraft a year or 180 aircraft a year ? that now depends on what Bombardier does today, stay tuned, it will get interesting indeed, but it needs to start at the top, signals change, and iit is time for change in HR, Marketing, Sales and PR/Communications.
Cheers to all that read this, and you said I can’t do short articles ? Hope you learned something from the article.
HERE ARE SOME COMMENTS TO THIS ARTICLE:
Such a savage cut translates to me into: “Each man for himself… run for yor life!” What will happen to those programs from which commercial and business variants originated? Things will sure become “interesting” between the Wichita and Montreal organisations and the never ending ego and vision scuffles, now that the “rastling” ring gets shrunk down strictly to Business Aircraft for a bunch of the staff.
When I started there in 1996 it still had the Canadair moniker on the buildings and business cards. From the moment I walked in the door in March 1996 until I walked out the door in June…all that I saw was argument conflict, and uncooperative individuals. There are so many insecure people there. There are people who never said hello who I would pass in the hall….it is a bad working environment. There are some good people who work or worked there. It is one thing to sit on the outside and look at the market analysis of what isn’t selling….it is yet another thing to endure a really miserable working condition for almost two decades.
“Over the years, I must admit to having seen Bombardier perfecting bullying to a “T”. Things started with bullying Canadair Chief Engineers that crapped all over each other and on underlings in a way that reminded how the British Army and Navy ran their ranks. Then came the days of Supply Chain bullying with Bully Buyers that imported practices from the Bombardier rail division, as their ranking officers took over the legal and financial reins of the aerospace acquisitions. Finally, HR bullying capped it all with the policy of not paying worked overtime, a gesture that is illegal in Quebec, but went unchallenged by employees who vouch total devotion to aerospace”
A lot of blame for Bombardier’s short coming is at the lower levels of management where the rubber hits the road [or runway]….it is how the projects are not executed. Not the vision of the executives!
Advise to Board of directors/shareholders: 1. Get ride of your CEO (6M/Year) he’s accountable for every decisions took during this crisis. 2. Change your VP’s team.. The job was not done. Lack of communication and vision. 3. Learn from your mistake… Why is Embraer better then us. What are they doing that we don’t do? 4. What has to be done to not relive this situation 5 years from now?
As someone who was involved with all the various aircraft programs at Bombardier, I would say that there was plenty of vision at the top of management at Bombardier. The analogy I will give is progressive lenses: The top part of the glasses you can see clearly and far. However, if you do not have progressive lenses then reading the close up details becomes blurry. The lower level of management at BA was unable to execute plans and schedules. The lowly section chief was too busy mucking around playing favorites, and building fiefdoms, all while playing office politics. So in essence the reading of the fine details of getting the work done properly was all blurry.
Guy is a good man and was right for the top position. I remember Guy stopping at my desk and talking to me one day and in the grand scheme of thing I was no one. I did not even realize he was the new CEO at the time. His name was mentioned but no picture. The problem at BA is there are way too many levels of management. By the time an objective gets flowed down it must come down [no kidding] 16 levels! BA needs to flatten out their organization. Everyone there is a boss [except for me at the time]! Just look at the LinkedIn profiles. How much management is there to each actual worker? Too many! It is an inverted pyramid. Until that is changed the stock will hover around $3.00 a share.
There was too much in fighting, gamesmanship, favoritism, and nepotism at the lower levels. I think Guy would be shocked to know what was really going on at the lower management levels. Most of it to me seemed to be unprofessional. The way BA HR and management handled things there was horrible. The workload was beyond anything imaginable. The programs were understaffed. People were burned out and did not cooperate well with each other. Lesson Learned – it is impossible to develop three new major aircraft programs without the proper staffing and respect by lower management toward the poor person who actually does the job.
I’m wondering whether Bombardier has restructured to prepare to sell-off the Aerospace Structures and Engineering Services unit to as a risk mitigation measure to improve its financial posture in the face of possible further delays with both the challenging Learjet 85 and CSeries programs. You don’t pull a stunt like that just for the fun of it.
As having part of Embraer, please accept my inputs as constructive criticism. First,every single A/C Embraer has been developed ( and I was part of 9) and certified by its engineering staff since 1968 (Bandeirantes) not by suppliers. It is unimaginable at Embraer that a product development engineer is not fully knowledgeable of all aspects of an aircraft development and Certification. He is exposed to Authorities meetings, aircraft assembly lines and is supposed to write from the system descriptions and qualification reports as all the aspects of safety (he/she runs the FTAs, for example and holds full responsibility for the SFHA) and not only does he writhe the ground and flight test proposals and results but he is supposed to fully organize and prepare the tests assigned to him/her. No wonder Authorities respect the Embraer staff. TCCA issued a note after the ERJ 190 certification stating how very well-impressed they were with the dynamism, knowledge, efficiency and promptness of Embraer staff.
AT BA all the design is passed on to the suppliers and the engineering staff is hampered from learning from this design process. In addition, who said that every system package should have over 400 deliverables every phase?
Second, at BA, dates and schedule overshadow the product. Project engineers (?) , who acknowledge they know little of aircraft development and process, outrank the technical staff and curb any technical discussion. Hardly ever are WHY and HOW questions fostered;WHEN always prevail.
Third, at BA, sometimes the System packages seems not to work as a whole. Each one has its own targets and golas to accomplish.
Finally, at BA, decisions may linger forever, from the simplest to the most complex issue.
Anyway, BA should start accepting that Boeing, Airbus and especially Embraer are competitors and not enemies and that they may outperform BA in some aspects. Humility to accept mistakes is the basis for us to surmount the obstacles. BA is an amazing company in many aspects, especially in the integrity of its staff; that is why it will be able to prevail at the end.
Bombardier has lost it’s soul and pride. The employees have come to the point with such bad management and lack of company loyalty towards their employees they have stopped having pride in their work. Their management yes man attitude has blindly led them into a painted corner I don’t think they will not be able to paint themselves out of. Employees that have 20 years plus are being laid off during these cuts to prevent any commitments to the pensions for these people while junior less qualified employees are being kept. Too many times throughout history major companies have forgotten what makes a great company be great. Once you loose your soul you loose your direction.