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Bombardier Agrees to Share CSeries Cockpit With China’s C919

Bombardier CEO Pierre Beaudoin
Pierre Beaudoin, chief executive officer of Bombardier Inc. Photographer: Peter Foley/Bloomberg

Bombardier Inc.’s planned CSeries aircraft will have the same cockpit as China’s first passenger jet, helping the planemaker pare research costs and challenge Boeing Co. and Airbus SAS.

Chief Executive Officer Pierre Beaudoin signed an agreement today with Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China to collaborate on cockpit-crew interfaces, electrical systems and technical publications, the companies said in a statement.

A shared cockpit may aid sales of the CSeries and Comac’s C919 by cutting airlines’ training and operating expenses. Today’s accord solidifies a tentative March 2011 agreement between Montreal-based Bombardier and Comac as they work to take on Boeing and Airbus with their own single-aisle models.

“We sense that Bombardier brings more to the table in this first step than Comac does,” Fadi Chamoun, a BMO Capital Markets analyst in Toronto, said in a note to clients. “We believe this is ultimately in exchange for greater access to the Chinese market, which is positive.”

Bombardier rose 3.2 percent, the most since Jan. 31, to C$4.18 at the close in Toronto. Chamoun recommends buying the stock, whose gain today pushed the year-to-date advance to 3 percent.

The planemaker expects to win CSeries orders “shortly” from Chinese carriers with the approach of the first deliveries next year, Beaudoin said. Airbus and Boeing are revamping their narrow-body models to blunt competition in a segment that accounts for about 60 percent of the global fleet.

‘Getting Close’

“I feel very confident that we are getting close” to the first Chinese CSeries purchase, Beaudoin said. Worldwide orders totaled 133 at the end of 2011, led by 40 from Indianapolis-based Republic Airways Holdings Inc.

The CSeries will seat 100 to 149 passengers, while the C919 will carry as many as 168. Boeing’s entry in that seating category is the 737, the world’s most widely flown airliner, while Airbus offers the A320 family of jets.

Beaudoin reiterated that Bombardier expects to have the first CSeries ready for a test flight this year. The C919 is due to make its first flight in 2014, with deliveries starting two years later.

Today’s deal is a first step toward allowing airlines that use both aircraft to take advantage of cost savings in such areas as using common parts for repair. The two companies said they will consider further collaboration including in aircraft programs, procurement and customer service.

“If we have common customers and there is a common cockpit, it makes it easier for everybody,” Beaudoin said in a Bloomberg Television yesterday in Beijing.

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