Bombardier says CSeries jet on track for end-June debut

Sun Jun 2, 2013 12:53pm EDT
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PARIS (Reuters) - Canada's Bombardier (BBDb.TO: Quote) said on Sunday its new CSeries passenger jet was in good shape to make its crucial maiden flight by the end of June as it prepares to unveil orders for the more fuel efficient jet at the Paris air show.

The first aircraft, which rolled out of the factory in green primer paint and is now under the control of the flight test crew, is "looking great" for a test sortie this month, Chet Fuller, senior commercial vice president, told reporters.

The countdown coincides with preparations for the first flight of the larger Airbus EAD.PA A350, which could fly before the June 17-23 air show.

The CSeries and A350 are both examples of a new generation of carbon-composite passenger jets designed to save weight and allow airlines to burn less fuel, a manufacturing technique first introduced on such a scale by Boeing's 787 Dreamliner.

The rare prospect of two maiden flights within weeks of each other has created a buzz in the aviation industry and whetted the appetite of airlines anxious to cut their fuel bills.

Airbus said on Sunday engine tests had started on the A350, a milestone that typically happens one or two weeks before the first flight unless there are last-minute technical glitches.

Fuller dismissed speculation of a CSeries flight in time for the mid-month event in Paris, saying it would not be dictated by marketing considerations.

But he said Bombardier would use the showcase event to unveil a previously undisclosed customer for the 110-seat version of the CSeries and could also add new business.

He also predicted strong sales for that variant in Africa, where he was speaking on the sidelines of a summit of airline industry leaders in Cape Town.   Continued...

Bombardier unveils its CSeries aircraft at a news conference at its assembly facility in Mirabel, Quebec, March 7, 2013. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi