Bombardier Seeks Star Turn in Paris With CSeries’ Air-Show Debut

Bombardier Inc. plans to bring both versions of its struggling CSeries jetliner to the Paris Air Show to drum up interest in the $5.4 billion program and capture more orders.

“Showcasing the family of Bombardier aircraft is going to be a focal point for us,” Fred Cromer, the planemaker’s commercial aircraft chief, said Tuesday in a telephone interview. “As potential and existing customers come through, they can get a hands-on feel for the airplane.”

Getting the CS300 and the smaller CS100 models to Paris gives Montreal-based Bombardier a chance to spotlight its biggest-ever jet at the year’s highest-profile forum for new aircraft. Now targeted for a 2016 commercial debut, the CSeries is running more than two years behind schedule and has won few customers among major airlines.

Flight tests on the CSeries are about 55 percent complete, and Bombardier is about 70 percent of the way toward obtaining certification, Cromer said from Cleveland, where he is attending the annual convention of the Regional Airline Association trade group.

The CSeries is a step up from Bombardier’s signature regional jets, with seating for as many as 160 people in the CS300. It is intended to compete against the smallest single-aisle aircraft from Boeing Co. and Airbus Group NV, which dominate that market segment.

‘Always Pressure’

“There’s always pressure for the air-show events, just because the spotlight is there,” Cromer said. “To the extent we can bring current negotiations to closure for Paris, we will try to make that happen. We would like to accelerate announcements for Paris, but some of that is out of our control.”

CSeries flight trials began in 2013, but the plane missed last year’s air show in Farnborough, England, because of an engine fire that grounded the test fleet for more than three months.

Bombardier has booked 243 firm orders for the CSeries as of the end of March, short of a target of 300 by the time the plane enters service. The company had to raise more than $3 billion in debt and equity this year to ensure it adequate financing for new-product development.

Long-term borrowing has ballooned to more than $9 billion during development of the CSeries, which Bombardier now says will cost about $2 billion more than originally forecast.

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