Bombardier exec says C-Series on track for flight
C-Series head says tail-end of a program “compressed”
* Says early plane tests going better than planned
* Bombardier sees first flight in 2012
* Entry into service target is by end-2013
* Commercial aircraft chief says happy with C-Series order book
(REUTERS) The remaining few months before Bombardier Inc’s planned first flight of its all-new C-Series jetliner will be crammed with a barrage of final assembly and safety tests, although the timeline remains in place, company executives said on Tuesday.
Bombardier, the world’s third-biggest planemaker, has said it will fly the C-Series jet for the first time by the end of 2012. Entry into service for the aircraft, aimed at the 100-to 149-seat market where it will compete with smaller aircraft built by industry leaders Boeing Co and Airbus, is planned for a year later.
“It is true the back end of the program is compressed. There is no doubt,” said Rob Dewar, vice-president of the C-Series program, Bombardier’s $3 billion stab at building its biggest plane yet.
Analysts and investors are closely watching the C-Series’ timetable in a sector where chronic delays in the development of new-design planes are not unusual.
Canaccord Genuity analyst David Tyerman said the tightness of the schedule was something to keep a close eye on but that it was also worth keeping perspective.
“Really, as long as this doesn’t turn into a B787 or A380 situation we’re getting too myopic I think,” he said, referring to prolonged delays of aircraft by Boeing and Airbus, respectively.
Dewar said that early tests on the C-Series are going better than planned. “We are hopeful that trend continues,” he said, adding that the company should then “actually be able to live with that compressed schedule.”
He said Bombardier should have “better visibility” on the timeline by the end of September.
“We are driving for the first flight in 2012. We are working towards an entry of service for our CS-100 aircraft by the end of 2013 and by 2014 for the CS-300 aircraft,” said Mike Arcamone, the newly appointed president of Bombardier’s commercial aircraft unit.
He was speaking to analysts and the media at an event in Montreal, where Bombardier is based, to showcase the C-Series ahead of the Farnborough International Airshow next month.
Asked if Bombardier expected any C-Series orders at the important industry event in the United Kingdom, Arcamone said orders were announced when they were received and not tied to air shows.
The C-Series has failed to attract a steady stream of orders, raising concerns about the cost and eventual success of the program. Some 18 months ahead of the plane’s launch, it has 11 customers and 138 firm orders.
Arcamone, who was appointed president of Bombardier commercial aircraft in February after his predecessor retired unexpectedly last year, said he was “absolutely” happy with the order book for the C-Series.
Bombardier’s stock was down 1 cent at C$4.04 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Tuesday afternoon.