Rain dims hopes for Bombardier CSeries' first flight this week

Mon Sep 9, 2013 6:11pm EDT
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By Solarina Ho

TORONTO (Reuters) - Rainy, cloudy weather is forecast for Bombardier Inc's (BBDb.TO: Quote) flight test site in Quebec for much of this week, adding to suspense over the unspecified date for the maiden flight of the Canadian company's all-new CSeries jetliner.

The 100- to 149-seat CSeries is the first completely new narrow-body aircraft in its class in decades, and is Bombardier's attempt to break into a market dominated by Airbus EAD.PA and Boeing Co (BA.N: Quote).

The first flight is an important milestone for the CSeries, and the $3.4 billion aircraft is already nine months behind its original schedule.

Bombardier, the world's fourth-largest plane maker, has said the CSeries will be more fuel-efficient and economical than other planes in its class.

The Montreal-based plane and train-maker said on Monday it was "getting close" to first flight, the start of the next phase of the program that will determine whether the CSeries can live up to its performance and efficiency promises.

"Optimal weather is preferred. It's just one less obstacle to have to worry about when you're going up for the first time," said Bombardier spokeswoman Marianella de la Barrera, adding that she did not expect first flight to occur in rainy weather.

"At this point ... we're at the mercy of Mother Nature."

The company declined to give a date for the first flight, although a source familiar with the situation has tipped September 17 as a likely deadline.   Continued...

A security guard looks on as Bombardier unveiled its CSeries aircraft at a news conference at its assembly facility in Mirabel, Quebec, March 7, 2013. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi