Delta has just put Bombardier's C series airliners firmly on the U.S. airline map with an order for 75 CS100 jets and options for 50 more. It's not only the first U.S. order, it makes Delta the biggest customer anywhere, so far.
The C series, which is Bombardier's first venture into a market segment where it's competing directly with Boeing's 737 and Airbus A319 models, has had trouble getting started; delays and financing have been problems, but now there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Delta says it will be using the CS100s on short-to-medium domestic routes. It can take up to 110 passengers, although Delta didn't announce its seat configuration plans. Delta has been upgrading its small-plane fleet, moving away from the 50-seat planes that have served regional routes. Some of the CS100s may replace some of Delta's remaining MD88s as well.
Bombardier has been, along with Brazil's Embraer, the dominant builder of under-100-seat regional jets; the C series is an attempt to break out of what may be a shrinking market. Bombardier is also marketing a CS300 model that can seat up to 160.