C Series: Wide body comfort on short haul for the first time

ZURICH - This first half of 2016 has been an exciting time for Swiss, the star performer of the Lufthansa Group. In February, Swiss introduced the Boeing 777-300ER into its fleet. While the biggest version yet of the 777 is nothing new on a global scale, it's different now:

Swiss is introducing the Bombardier C Series CS100. The world's first all-new passenger jet built from scratch in decades will have its EIS on July 15. A week prior, the carrier presented its first production aircraft to the media in Zurich, enabling PaxEx.com to inspect the cabin interior and witness the performance of the aircraft first-hand.

Swiss Bombardier CS100
Swiss Airbus A220-100, © Swiss

"This being a world premier, I definitely consider the C Series our new flagship", says Peter Koch, Swiss's fleet chief of the C Series, "but for a captain of course, any aircraft type he flies is the most important type anyway", he concedes, smiling, referring to his colleagues flying the 777.

After a spectacular arrival into Zurich last Friday from its delivery flight out of Montréal's Mirabel airport, site of Bombardier's final assembly line for the C Series, via Dublin, the first revenue service comes closer. On its arrival, the first aircraft, registered HB-JBA, MSN 50010, was greeted by the world's only airworthy Lockheed Super Constellation, operated in Switzerland, in a stunning flyby.

The first ever commercial flight will be LX638, leaving Zurich at 12.30 pm to Paris-CDG on Friday July 15. And the Swiss CEO, Thomas Klühr, boasts with confidence.

Swiss Bombardier CS100 Interior
Swiss Bombardier CS100 Interior, © Andreas Spaeth

"This aircraft reduces our unit cost by 25%, halves noise perception as well as CO2 output and creates 150 new jobs", he said at the presentation of the aircraft. Lufthansa Group took a bet when it ordered the Canadian-made jet in 2009. All of the group's currently 30 firm orders (a mix of the base version CS100 and the larger CS300) will be deployed by Swiss. "Now, seven years and US$ 2bn later, we see the results", Klühr enthused.

This year, the airline will receive nine CS100s, with the next aircraft coming in August. Meanwhile, Latvian carrier Air Baltic will be the launch operator for the larger CS300 and receives the first aircraft ever delivered in September. Swiss puts 125 seats at 30'' pitch in a 2-3 configuration in its CS100s, while it will accommodate 145 passengers in its larger CS300s.

Swiss Bombardier CS100 Interior
Swiss Bombardier CS100 Interior, © Andreas Spaeth

The aircraft, fairly compact from the outside, has a wide body appeal from the inside, with its huge windows and ample cabin height. Swiss has taken cleverly designed new seats by German manufacturer ZIM, also responsible for Lufthansa's premium economy seats on long haul aircraft.

The seats are upholstered in elegant brown leather, however the headrest is non-movable. The table at each seat is innovatively anchored in a single central support arm in the middle of the seatback, overcoming the usual two-armed tables. Two small, netted seat pockets on each side of the table arm are put to good use to hold a water bottle, for example.

Swiss Bombardier CS100 Interior
Swiss Bombardier CS100 Interior, © Andreas Spaeth

These being slim-line seats, the legroom of 30'' is ample, even for larger people. Each seat has a silver, aluminium-look alike frame, including cleverly positioned coat hooks, that runs around it, marking the edge between leather on the front side and the carbon material of the back shell.
The window in the over-wing emergency exit doors is smaller than the other cabin windows, and the window shade here is cleverly divided into individual segments, but there is some resistance in trying to shut it easily to block the light out.

Swiss Bombardier CS100 Interior
Swiss Bombardier CS100 Interior, © Andreas Spaeth

The most innovative feature to be found in the Swiss CS100 cabin, however, seem to be the mini screens integrated into the overhead passenger service unit, over each group of seats, meaning there are two per row. This is a great compromise between individual seatback screens, found on long-haul aircraft, and the dreaded bigger foldout screens every few rows, that are notoriously hard to see for many passengers, depending on their seat's and the next screen's position.

While not used for IFE, the mini overhead screens are employed to show the safety briefing before take-off and also the moving map to track the flight's progress during the whole flight, unlike fold-out screens that can't be seen during take-off and landing.

Swiss Bombardier CS100 Interior
Swiss Bombardier CS100 Interior, © Andreas Spaeth

In the first demo flight with passengers on the Swiss CS100, Captains Daniel Nater and Markus Juchli, Chief Flight Instructors for the C Series at Swiss, took off from runway 19 and demonstrated both the low cabin noise as well as the immense thrust power of its "PurePower" PW1000 engines.

Fleet Chief Peter Koch was traveling in the cabin, explaining that this aircraft in an all-Business Class configuration could travel from London City airport nonstop to the East Coast of North America, unlike the Airbus A318 service of British Airways, making a West-bound fuel stop in Shannon on the way to New York-JFK.

Swiss Bombardier CS100 Interior
Swiss Bombardier CS100, © Andreas Spaeth

"For me, flying into and out of London City will be the most exciting part of my job at the controls of the C Series aircraft", enthused Peter Koch. After all necessary licenses and permits are granted, Swiss is slated to deploy the C Series into London City Airport in the first quarter of next year.

Avro Jets to be phased within a year

After Paris-CDG; Manchester, Prague and Budapest will be among the first cities in the Swiss network regularly seeing CS100 service. As more and more aircraft are added, the four-engined Avro Jets are phased out by Swiss until July 2017. Already at the end of August of this year, Warsaw and Brussels will get CS100 services, followed in September by Nice, Stuttgart, Hanover, Milan, Florence and Bucharest.

"Florence is another tricky airport with a short runway, surrounded by mountains", explains Peter Koch. As this short, 47-minute flight, taking in some of Switzerland's most scenic alpine panoramas such as the Matterhorn peak, demonstrated, passengers are in for a comfortable, smooth ride in line with the newest generation of big airliners like the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A350. A comfort level, that now, for the first time, can be found on short and medium haul routes.

PaxEx.com author Andreas Spaeth was among the first passengers to make the C Series experience on an unscheduled flight from Dublin to Zurich. After his flight Andreas concluded: "Bombardier CS100: A surprisingly roomy challenger" (PaxEx.com June 6th 2016).

Andreas Spaeth

Andreas Spaeth flies. Very frequently. On PaxEx.com one of the leading European aviation journalists shares his personal passenger experiences traveling around the globe.

Follow Andreas on his Twitter @SpaethFlies.

© Andreas Spaeth | Abb.: Andreas Spaeth | Jul 7, 2016 12:53

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