Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) launched daily Bombardier CSeries services from Zurich to London City Airport (LCY) Aug. 8, becoming the first airline to serve LCY with the type.

“SWISS is acquiring its CSeries primarily to replace its Avro RJ100s, which were used to commence its scheduled services to and from LCY precisely 25 years ago with BAe146 regional jets. Today we inaugurate a sort of innovation [with the CS100],” SWISS CSeries fleet chief Peter Koch told ATW in London.

The CS100 is the largest aircraft to use the London downtown airport, which is located in the Docklands area.

SWISS will also be deploying CS100s on its Geneva-London City route from next summer onward.

SWISS currently operates up to five daily flights from Zurich to LCY and two daily flights from Geneva. A SWISS spokesman said that “24% of all our SWISS passengers in the UK travel via LCY.”

Earlier this year, Bombardier received clearance  from the European Aviation Safety Agency and Transport Canada to operate the steep approach necessary for services into LCY, which has several tall buildings in the nearby financial district on its western approach. Aircraft have to adopt a descent angle of up to 5.5 degrees, instead of the normal 3 degrees.

Pilots who fly into LCY are required to undergo additional training because of the airport’s short runway and steep landing approach.

“Landing at LCY is like landing on an aircraft carrier [because of the steep approach],” Koch said, adding the airline has restricted CS100 operations into LCY to 91 passengers; the number will rise to 108 from Aug. 21.

Total capacity for the SWISS CS100 is 125 seats.

“SWISS now has 10,000 hours of CSeries flying experience. Eight CS100 instructors are certified for LCY. Around 30 pilots will follow [to be trained for flying into LCY],” he said.

So far, three parking positions for CS100s are available at LCY, but only two can be used at one time. “The limit is the CS100 wingspan. For example, we can only use two runway exits. However, as soon as more parking stands become available, more CS100s will be able to land,” Koch said.

The larger CS300 variant is not certificated to fly into LCY, he said.

Kurt Hofmann, hofmann.aviation@netway.at