The Airbus A220 is a family of narrow-body, twin-engine, medium-range jet airliners. The airliner was designed and originally marketed by Bombardier Aerospace, as the Bombardier C Series. It is now marketed by Airbus and built by joint venture Airbus Canada Limited Partnership.
The 108 to 133-seat A220-100 (ex CS100) made its maiden flight on 16 September 2013, was awarded an initial type certification by Transport Canada on 18 December 2015, and entered service on 15 July 2016 with Swiss Global Air Lines. The 130 to 160-seat A220-300 (ex CS300) first flew on 27 February 2015, received an initial type certification on 11 July 2016, and entered service with launch customer airBaltic on 14 December 2016. Early operators recorded better-than-expected fuel burn and dispatch reliability, as well as positive feedback from passengers and crew.
Airbus acquired a 50.01% majority stake in the CSeries program in October 2017, with the deal closing in July 2018. As part of the deal, Bombardier retained a 31% stake in the aircraft and Investissement Québec 19%. In August 2019, Airbus opened a second assembly line for the aircraft at its Mobile, Alabama factory.
Airbus A220-100 and A220-300 illustration with front, side and top views, wearing the Bombardier livery
The Airbus A220 was originally designed by Bombardier as the CSeries aircraft incorporating a high proportion of composite materials and larger windows. The CSeries cabin featured large, rotating overhead storage bins, allowing each passenger to stow a sizeable carry-on bag overhead. Bombardier claimed that compared to the cabins of current in-service narrowbody aircraft, the CSeries would provide airlines with the highest overhead bin volume per passenger and a wider aisle that allows for faster boarding and disembarkation of passengers.
The aircraft contain 70% advanced materials comprising 46% composite materials and 24% aluminium-lithium. Bombardier claimed an overall 15% lower seat-mile cost, 20% lower fuel burn and a CO
2 emissions advantage, a 25% reduction in maintenance costs and four-fold reduction in the noise footprint compared to existing production aircraft.
Bombardier claimed the engine and the wings would save up to 20% fuel compared with the Airbus A320neo and the Boeing 737NG with which it competed at the time; the CS300 was 6 tonnes lighter than the Airbus A319neo and nearly 8 tons lighter than the Boeing 737 MAX 7, helping it to achieve up to 12% operating costs savings and 15% with the current models.
The CS100 (now A220-100) began revenue service on 15 July 2016 with a Swiss International Air Lines flight between Zürich and Paris. The CS300 (now A220-300) revenue service began on 14 December 2016 with an airBaltic flight from Riga to Amsterdam in a 145-seat two-class configuration.
Swiss stated in August 2016, one month after the start of CS100 (A220-100) service, that “the customer feedback is very positive with the expected remarks concerning the bright cabin, reduced noise, enough leg room and space for hand luggage as well as the comfortable seats. Also the feedback from our pilots is gratifying. They especially like the intuitive flying experience.” AirBaltic lauded lower noise levels for passengers and more space for luggage than its Boeing 737-300s.
Bombardier targets a 99% dispatch reliability at entry into service. In August 2016, Swiss reported “much higher” reliability than other new aircraft, citing Airbus’ A380, A320neo and Boeing’s 787. After four months of service with Swiss, this goal seems to have been met based on only three aircraft and 1,500 hours flown; “nuisance messages” from the integrated avionics suite and the PW1000G start-up delays have been the main griefs. Dispatch reliability rates of 99% were met in April 2017. A year after introduction, launch operators had fewer issues than expected for a new program. Air Baltic have 99.3%-99.4% dispatch reliability, similar to the established Q400 but less than the 99.8% Boeing 737 Classic benefiting from its ubiquitous presence. It improved to 99.85% in October 2017.
Since the PW1500G mount generates less strain on the turbine rotor assembly than the A320neo’s PW1100G, it does not suffer from start-up and bearing problems but still from premature combustor degradation. After 28,000 engine hours in 14 in-service aircraft with a powerplant dispatch reliability of 99.9%, Swiss replaced an engine pair in May 2017 after 2,400 h, while AirBaltic replaced another one in June. An updated combustor liner with a 6,000–8,000 hour limit has been developed and a third generation for 2018 will raise it to 20,000 hours in benign environments. In July 2018, Pratt & Whitney announced that the PW1500G had been granted 180-minute ETOPS approval by the FAA.
Upon introduction, both variants are performing above their original specifications and the CS300 range is 2% better than the brochure, as are its per seat and per trip cost. airBaltic reports a 2600 l/h fuel consumption against 3000 l/h for its Boeing 737-300 with similar capacity. It then claimed 21% better fuel efficiency. Fuel burn is more than 1% lower than the marketing claims and Bombardier will update its performance specifications later in 2017. The CSeries is 25% cheaper to fly than the Avro RJ100 which it replaces at Swiss. On long missions, the CS100 is up to 1% more fuel efficient than the brochure and the CS300 up to 3%. The CS300 burns 20% less fuel than the Airbus A319, 21% less than the 737 Classic while the CS100 burns 18 to 27% less per seat than the Avro RJ. The CS300 also consumes 15% less fuel per seat than the Embraer E190.
Swiss initially flew six sectors a day and by July 2017 up to nine a day with an average time of 1 hours 15 minutes. Air Baltic’s flight length averages 3 h, and the average fleet daily utilisation is 14 h. In September 2017, over 1.5 million passengers had 16,000 revenue flights in the 18 aircraft in service, making up to 100 revenue flights per day on 100 routes: most used are up to 17 hours per day and up to 10 legs per day. Quick 35–minute turnarounds even allowed 11 legs per day. By June 2018, Air Baltic reached a maximum utilisation of 18.5 hours a day.
The A Check is scheduled after 850 flight hours: the check originally took 5 hours and has since been reduced to less than 3 hours, within an 8 hour shift. C Check are scheduled after 8,500 hours – translating to about 3.5 years of operation. Based on experience since product launch, A-checks intervals could increase to 1,000 hours and C-checks to 10,000 hours toward the end of 2019. By September 2017 end, the fleet had undergone 20 A-checks with no findings.
On 22 December 2017, Korean Air became the third airline to take delivery of a Bombardier CSeries aircraft, a CS300. On 20 January 2018, Korean Air made their first revenue flight with the CS300, from Seoul to Ulsan.
July 2018 saw the delivery of the first aircraft with Airbus branding: an A220-300 delivered to Air Baltic. On 26 October, Delta Air Lines received its first A220-100 (of its order for 75, which was disputed by Boeing). On 7 February 2019, Delta operated its maiden A220-100 flight with service from New York-LaGuardia Airport to Dallas–Fort Worth. On 20 December 2019, Air Canada received its first A220-300 of its order for 45. Air Canada is planning to begin A220 revenue flights on 16 January 2020 between Calgary and Montreal.
On 25 July 2019, a Swiss International Air Lines A220-300 had an engine inflight shutdown (IFSD) and diverted to Paris–Charles de Gaulle. On 16 September 2019, a similar accident happened just before reaching 35,000ft and the crew returned to Geneva. On September 26, 2019 the FAA issued an Airworthiness Directive mandating borescope inspections on the engines. On 15 October 2019, another engine failed and the crew diverted to Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Swiss withdrew its fleet for inspection. A software update may cause damaging vibrations of fast-moving parts, causing the failures. After those engine failures, Transport Canada issued an emergency airworthiness directive limiting the power to 94% of N1 (Low Pressure Spool rotational speed) above 29,000 ft (8,800 m), disengaging the autothrottle for the climb over this altitude before engaging it again in cruise.
As of 31 December 2019, 105 aircraft are in commercial service with: