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Bombardier CSeries Jet Takes Off to Start First Flight

Bombardier CSeries Jet Takes Off for First Flight as Delays End
Workers view the landing gear of the Bombardier Inc. CSeries 100 airplane after the unveiling at the company's production facility in Mirabel, Canada, on March 7, 2013. Photographer: Patrick Doyle/Bloomberg

Bombardier Inc.’s CSeries jet completed its maiden flight, ending more than eight months of delays for the $3.4 billion aircraft program intended to challenge Boeing Co. and Airbus SAS.

Flight Test Vehicle 1 performed as expected, Rob Dewar, the CSeries program’s general manager, told reporters after the plane touched down at Mirabel airport near Montreal under sunny skies following about 2 1/2 hours aloft. Cheers arose from a crowd of about 3,000 as the jet settled onto the runway.

Bombardier has completed five test aircraft as it works to finish certification to get the jet into service, said Guy Hachey, the company’s aerospace president. While Bombardier predicts flight trials probably will last 2,400 hours, it’s confident the jet will meet its efficiency goals, said Mike Arcamone, president of the commercial aircraft business.

Chief Executive Officer Pierre Beaudoin is depending on the jet, Bombardier’s largest plane ever, as a catalyst for almost doubling annual revenue toward the end of the decade. The world’s third-biggest planemaker stirred investor concern in November by announcing a six-month delay to the test flight, citing unspecified “issues” with unidentified suppliers, then postponed the event twice more this year.

Development Costs

Development costs for the CSeries program will be about $3.9 billion, Bombardier said today, revising a $3.4 billion projection when the plane was announced five years ago. New accounting standards mean that Bombardier has to include interest and amortization expenses, said Marc Duchesne, a spokesman.

Bombardier’s Class B shares fell 0.6 percent to C$4.96 at the close in Toronto. That pared the stock’s year-to-date gain to 32 percent.

The CSeries will cost about 15 percent less to operate, burn about 20 percent less fuel and be about four times quieter than existing rivals, according to Bombardier. The plane will feature composite materials and the new geared turbofan engine from United Technologies Corp.’s Pratt & Whitney.

The CSeries is intended to compete with the smallest Boeing and Airbus narrow-body jets and will carry as many as 160 people, a step up from Bombardier’s signature regional jets with fewer than 100 seats.

As Bombardier develops the CSeries, Airbus and Boeing are developing reworked versions of their own narrow-body planes, the A320neo and 737 Max respectively, which will be powered by more fuel-efficient engines.

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