Bombardier Inc. (BBD/B) may resume flight tests in the next few weeks for its troubled CSeries jet after a preliminary analysis of last month’s engine failure found the fault to be minor.
Investigators believe the problem can be “rapidly fixed,” said Gregory Hayes, chief financial officer of United Technologies Corp. (UTX), whose Pratt & Whitney subsidiary built the engine. Bombardier and Pratt said they expect to issue a formal report on the cause of the May 29 blowout in the next few days.
“It is not going to have a significant impact on the testing schedule,” Hayes said today at an industry conference in Chicago. Pratt and Montreal-based Bombardier are working on a plan to restart testing “in the next few weeks,” he said, without giving a specific timetable.
A swift return to flight trials would help bolster investor confidence in Bombardier, which envisions as much as $8 billion in annual revenue from the CSeries later this decade. The engine failure dealt the latest blow to a model that has struggled with rising costs, delays and limited acceptance by major airlines.
Bombardier’s Class B shares rose 0.8 percent to C$3.73 at the close of trading in Toronto. The stock slid 19 percent this year. Marc Duchesne, a Bombardier spokesman, declined to comment on any plans to resume flights.
The CSeries, Bombardier’s largest-ever jet, is the company’s first challenger to the Boeing Co. and Airbus Group NV single-aisle planes that make up the bulk of the global airline fleet. The aircraft is designed to seat 108 to 160 people.
Bombardier grounded all four CSeries test planes after an engine on one jet caught fire and damaged the aircraft during a ground trial at the company’s assembly plant in Mirabel, Quebec. Bombardier said this week that it still expects to put the CSeries into service in the second half of 2015.
That projection “might prove a bit too ambitious,” said Evan Mann, an analyst with bond-research firm Gimme Credit LLC in New York. Mann cut his rating on Bombardier debt yesterday to sell from underperform, saying the engine incident is the latest in a string of setbacks for the company.
The CSeries is scheduled to be the first to use Pratt’s fuel-efficient geared turbofan engine, which will produce less noise and cost about 15 percent less to operate than comparable planes. Hayes, speaking at Deutsche Bank AG’s Global Industrials and Basic Materials Conference, said the preliminary analysis indicated that the fault wasn’t in the gear system.
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