The Atlanta, US-based Delta Airlines, one of the world's largest air carriers, this week set the stage for one of the biggest aerospace showdowns in years, as it asked manufacturers to submit bids for up to 200 aircraft to replace its aging fleet of McDonnell Doublas DC-9s, Airbus A-320s and Boeing 757-200s.
Such an order could be worth $20 billion.
This is seen as an indicator that the slump in the aviation industry is ending – India's low-cost carrier IndiGo has just ordered a record 180 planes from Airbus, while national carrier Air India seeks to double its fleet size in the next five years (See: Airbus, IndiGo confirm massive $15.6-bn order for 180 jets).
The contest for the Delta order will pit Boeing against Europe's Airbus and Canada's Bombardier. Boeing comes to the fight with the oldest technology in its 737 Next Generation. Both Airbus and Bombardier have newer aircraft to offer.
Bombardier has an all-new aircraft in its CSeries. That aircraft could replace both Delta's DC-9s, which seat 144, and some of the smaller members of the A320 family. The CSeries seats up to 149 passengers.
The CSeries will have extensive composite components for lighter weight and enhanced durability as well as new geared turbofan engines for better fuel economy.