CSeries was a 'big gamble', but it's a 'first-class plane': Former Bombardier CEO
Bombardier Inc.'s patriarch took "one risk too many" by going ahead with CSeries aircraft, according to Paul Tellier, who spoke out on the circumstances surrounding his exit as the plane-maker’s chief executive officer nearly two decades ago in an interview with BNN Bloomberg.
“The CSeries was a big gamble,” Tellier told Jon Erlichman in the interview, citing the delays and cost overruns that plagued the development of the company’s former crown jewel.
Bombardier floated the idea of the CSeries as early as 2004. The following year, the board of directors granted the company authority to shop the CSeries around to prospective buyers. After some false starts, the CSeries officially launched in 2008. Despite receiving a US$1-billion investment from the Quebec government, the development of the CSeries was delayed for more than two years and went about $2 billion over budget. In October 2017, European planemaker Airbus acquired a majority stake on the CSeries and rebranded it as A220.
Tellier praised the company’s long-time CEO and Chairman Laurent Beaudoin as an “outstanding entrepreneur” but added that “like any entrepreneur, he liked risks. And sometimes it’s one risk too many.”
Tellier, who became Bombardier’s CEO in 2002 after previously serving as chief executive of CN Rail and clerk of the Privy Council, was ousted two years later and replaced by then-chairman Beaudoin.
Tellier said that he left before the decision was made to launch the CSeries and that he “had some hesitations,” but wasn’t necessarily opposed to it.
“I was afraid that the two giants, Airbus and Boeing, would not allow Bombardier to invade the field with that size of aircraft. And this is exactly what happened.”
Tellier said he’s optimistic, however, about the aircraft’s future under Airbus’s leadership.
“It’s a beautiful aircraft and it’s going to be a very successful aircraft, I would predict.”