At Last, Eight Minutes of Paris Fame as CSeries Takes Wing

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CSeries Air Show Debut

Bombardier’s CS300 made its international air show debut in Paris on June 15. Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

Bombardier Inc.’s CSeries took to the Paris sky Monday as thousands watched the long-delayed jet make its debut over an international air show.

The plane, Bombardier’s challenge to Airbus Group SE and Boeing Co. in the narrow-body market, circled the Le Bourget airfield for about eight minutes on the first day of the Paris Air Show. The appearance was a milestone for the CSeries after missing last year’s expo in England due to engine troubles.

Bombardier’s pilots limited the display to a leisurely fly-by, in contrast to the steep climbs and other maneuvers during demonstration flights by planes such as Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner. Daily CSeries jaunts will continue through Thursday, according to Montreal-based Bombardier.

For Bombardier, having the CSeries in Paris -- and in the air over the aviation executives, analysts and journalists at the show -- marked a triumph for an aircraft program that has suffered from postponements and scant interest among the world’s major airlines. The Paris Air Show is the industry’s largest and oldest trade event.

Bombardier “is providing prospective customers a tangible product to assess,” Walter Spracklin, a Toronto-based analyst at RBC Capital Markets, said in a note to clients. “Having the planes physically in Paris is also giving the sales team an opportunity to showcase the CSeries’ best in class attributes, both from a performance and customer perspective.”

Performance Goals

On Sunday, Bombardier said the plane would exceed the performance targets once advertised for the craft, which features composite materials and more-efficient Pratt & Whitney engines.

The new metrics “should make the aircraft more competitive, potentially improving order prospects,” David Tyerman, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity in Toronto, said Monday in a note to clients. “Whether this will be enough to drive material sales increases remains to be seen. Order flow has been slow and the quality of the order book is debatable.”

Investors welcomed the CSeries news, sending Bombardier’s Class B shares up 3.2 percent to close at C$2.62 in Toronto in their biggest jump in a month. The gain trimmed this year’s decline to 37 percent.

Two Versions

Bombardier flew its larger CS300, one of two models it brought to the show. The smaller CS100, which can carry 108 to 125 people, lists for $63 million, while the 160-seater is $72 million. The CS100 is set to debut first in commercial operations, entering service next year.

The initial operator, Deutsche Lufthansa AG’s Swiss unit, converted 10 of its orders to the bigger version from the CS100, Bombardier said Monday.

The CSeries is already years behind schedule and more than $1 billion over its original development cost projections. Amid broad challenges to the business, Bombardier has revamped its executive team in recent months, including the hiring of Alain Bellemare in February as chief executive officer.

Bombardier said Sunday that it’s sticking to a goal of securing 300 firm orders by the time the CSeries enters service. The current tally is 243.

For more on the 2015 Paris Air Show, go here: Special Report

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