Delta’s schedule for advanced narrow-body includes MSP

Published 8:50 pm Monday, October 15, 2018

By Martin Moylan and Bill Catlin, Minnesota Public Radio News


Delta Air Lines said it will start flying a new generation of quieter narrow-body jets on some Twin Cities flights next summer.

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Delta said the narrow-body A220-100s from Airbus have much quieter engines — engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney claims up to a 75 percent reduction in noise versus other comparably-sized planes.

Delta’s first A220-100 took its flight earlier this week in Quebec, Canada.

The new planes will be deployed on several routes, including trips between the Twin Cities and Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth. The jets will have 109 seats.

In the main cabin, seats will be nearly 19 inches wide, making them the widest such seats in Delta’s fleet. Seats will be deployed in a two-by-three layout.

Overhead bins and windows will be extra-large, and each seat will have power ports and free entertainment on individual seat-back screens. Delta is the first U.S. carrier to fly the A220.

The engine is the plane’s big draw. It has a gearbox that allows the fan blades at the engine’s intake to spin at a different speed than the compressor blades on the inside. That allows the two different components to rotate at the optimal speed for each. The fan blades spin at a slower rate which reduces noise, fuel burn and emissions.

Delta is making a big bet on the plane and engine. In 2016 the airline signed a deal to purchase as many as 125 of them, making it the largest customer for the plane which is designed and built by Bombardier of Canada.

The following year, Boeing alleged Bombardier was dumping the aircraft — selling it below cost. Well before the Trump administration’s tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, Boeing’s accusation fueled trade tensions across the northern border.

Canada demanded that Boeing back off and threatened to ditch plans to buy Boeing fighter jets.

But the U.S. Commerce sided with Boeing and threatened to impose tariffs of nearly 300 percent.

“Hypocrisy,” “egregious overreach,” Bombardier said.

Boeing’s complaint was a bit of a head-scratcher, since the Bombardier aircraft was not a direct competitor to any Boeing product. All of the company’s passenger aircraft are bigger.

While the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) was reviewing Boeing’s complaint, the company’s arch-rival, Airbus, stepped in. Airbus agreed to take a majority ownership stake in the plane, which was then known as the CSeries. For $1.

Instead of cash, Bombardier got some certainty. Airbus brought a stronger financial position and marketing firepower. It also raised the possibility of making the tariffs go away because production could be shifted to an Airbus facility in Alabama.

Ultimately that wasn’t necessary. Earlier this year the USITC found Boeing had not been harmed. Boeing chose not to appeal.

“Boeing’s claim was meritless and should never have been brought,” a Bombardier spokesperson said.