by Fred Roeder, Consumer Choice Center
Flight experiences on short- and medium haul itineraries in Europe rarely differ much. Most narrow body jets look very similar and sometimes only the safety card tells you whether you are on a 737 or an A320. By introducing the CS100 Canada's Bombardier aims to challenge the notion that the narrow body market became commoditized. We were skeptical if there's any room for actual inflight innovation in the field of narrow body jets and thus went on and reviewed this new plane comparing it with the most successful planes of all times.
This video shows a comparison of two narrow body jets, KLM's Boeing 737-700 snd Swiss' Bombardier CS100.
We flew the KLM 737-700 from Berlin TXL to Amsterdam AMS and the CS100 on Swiss from Zurich ZRH to Brussels BRU.
While flying these two narrow body jets we assessed inflight comfort in economy class. The Boeing 737 is the most successful plane of our time. In the past half century Boeing sold nearly 10,000 737s.
Bombardier recently started delivering their brand new narrow body jet, the CS100, to its first customers. The CS100 aims to break through the duopoly of Boeings 737 models and Airbus' A320 family.
We experienced two great inflight products. Given that we tested both planes in mid of August we experienced an usually packed coach cabin which resulted in almost all seats being taken.
Seating: The CS100 has a 2-3 configuration in economy class which reduced the likelihood to end up on a middle seat from 33% to 20% on a packed plane. Another nice feature of the CS100 are extra wide middle seats (19" while all other seats are 18.5" wide). KLM's seats on the 737-700 were merely 17" wide.
Seat pitch: The 737-700's seat pitch falls up to 2" shorter than the CS100's 32" seat pitch.
One great innovation of the CS100 is a much brighter passenger cabin compared to the 737-700. A 26% larger window and LED-lights are the main reasons for a brighter cabin experience.
Bin access: The CS100's 62" overhead compartment access if significantly lower and thus easier to access than the 737's 66" bin.
Inflight connectivity: The CS100 comes with all necessary hardware in order to provide Internet and streaming to Wi-Fi enabled devices. However unfortunately most European carriers have not followed suit their American competitors and thus WiFi on short- and mid-haul flights in Europe is rather a rarity.
Restrooms: The CS100 comes with fully accessible lavatories which are more spacious than on other narrow body jets and a quantum leap from what you usually experience on Brazilian and Canadian narrow body jets.
Energy efficiency: The makers of the CS100 claim that is can be operated at 15-20% less costs compared to its competitors. The CS100 leads in the field of efficiency. However this might just be short-lived as the 737MAX-series promises similar fuel savings.
While the 737 models and the A320 family are hard to distinguish form each other and basically commoditized the narrow body jet market, Bombardier sets a new standard with the CS100.
There's new competitive pressure in the narrow body market. Price and pace of delivery are not the only comparative parameters anymore but innovations such as wider seats, more fuel efficiency, noise reduction, easier to access overhead bins, and larger windows entered the game.
It will be interesting to see how long it takes for Boeing and Airbus to emulate Bombardier's technology lead and potentially even come up with better and more ground-breaking innovations for passengers and airlines